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PHOTO CAPTION: Hand-shoveled salt piles on Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni, thought to be one of the richest sources of lithium in the world.

Demand for Lithium About to Take Off

NY Times article updates status of various lithium carbonate projects from Argentina to Canada.

Published: 10-Mar-2010

PAPILLION, NE -- For many years, few metals drew bigger yawns from mining executives than lithium, a lightweight element long associated mostly with mood-stabilizing drugs.

Suddenly, the yawns are being replaced by eurekas. As awareness spreads that lithium is a crucial ingredient for hybrid and electric cars, a global hunt is under way for new supplies of the metal.

Toyota Tsusho, the material supplier for the big Japanese automaker, announced a joint venture in January with the Australian miner Orocobre to develop a $100 million lithium project in Argentina. That deal came only days after Magna International, the Canadian car parts company that is helping develop a battery-powered version of the Ford Focus, announced that it was investing $10 million in a small Canadian lithium firm that also has projects in Argentina.

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