Electric cars

Fighting for Bolivian lithium essential for electric cars

“The amount of lithium we need in each of our climate goals is incredible,” said Anna Shpitsberg, US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Transformation. “Everyone is trying to develop their supply chains and think about how to be strategic. “

But Washington has little influence over Bolivia, whose leaders have long disagreed with the US approach to drug policy and Venezuela. This may explain why some energy executives think Bolivia is not worth the risk.

“You’ve had 30 years of projects in Bolivia with next to nothing to show,” said Robert Mintak, Managing Director of Standard Lithium, a publicly traded mining company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, referring to the development efforts of the lithium dating back to 1990. “You have a landlocked country with no infrastructure, no labor, no political risk, no intellectual property protection. So as a developer I would choose another safer location.

Mr. Egan sees the odds differently.

That Mr. Egan has come this far is a wonder. He only heard about Bolivian lithium by accident when he and a friend toured South America as tourists in 2018.

When they arrived at the salt marshes, a guide explained that they were on the largest reserve of lithium in the world. “I was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I need to be involved,” Mr. Egan said.

He had tried his hand as a sports and music agent and at the time managed a small investment fund. He had invested in Tesla in 2013 at $ 9 a share; it is now trading around $ 975. (He didn’t want to reveal how many shares he had bought and how many he still had.)

But he felt he wasn’t getting much. Before Mr. Egan traveled to South America, his father, Michael, the founder of Alamo Rent A Car, advised him to make two lists: of his top five passions and the five industries he said would experience the fastest growth in the coming decades. Renewable energies were on both lists.

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