Bolivian state company Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) has signed framework agreements with Russia-based Uranium One Group and China’s Citic Guoan Group to develop lithium resources in the country.

The two deals involve a total investment of $1.4bn ($b9.67bn) to unlock Bolivia’s lithium reserves, which are among the most abundant in the world.

The investment envisages the development of two direct lithium extraction (DLE) processing plants in Pasto Grande and Uyuni Norte. The DLE plants are expected to produce at least 45,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of lithium carbonate.

Bolivia’s Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy Franklin Molina was quoted by Reuters as saying at an event in La Paz: “With these deals, our country will be able to produce some 100,000 (metric) tons of lithium carbonate in 2025 in the Uyuni, Coipasa and Pasto Grandes salt flats.”

Bolivia’s salt flats are estimated to hold what are reputed to be the world’s largest lithium resources, comprising 21 million tonnes, according to the US Geological Survey.

A unit of Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, Uranium One Group plans to invest $600m (Rbs52.7bn) in the project with a production capacity of 25,000tpa of lithium carbonate and a potential for further production expansion based on the results of geological exploration activities.

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Molina said that Citic Guoan is planning to invest $857m (6.22bn yuan). The Chinese company is also expected to “look at investing in battery plants and the installation, possibly with technical studies, of a vehicle assembly plant, to create a true electric transport revolution”.