LA PAZ Ė Japanís Sumitomo Corp. said it invested $1.8 billion in the development of mining subsidiary San Cristobal, which produces lead, zinc and silver in southwestern Bolivia.
Sumitomo executive Hiruo Makusaki discussed the project with reporters after meeting with Bolivian President Evo Morales in La Paz on Monday.
Sumitomo has controlled 100 percent of San Cristobal, the largest mine in Bolivia, since 2009.
The Japanese trading company acquired San Cristobal from U.S.-based Apex Silver Mines, which filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
San Cristobal, located in Potosi province some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of La Paz, is being developed without any problems and Sumitomo wants to continue its business relationship with the government, Makusaki said.
Sumitomo and several other Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi, have joined state-owned Comibol in forming a research committee to determine how best to exploit the vast lithium reserves in Boliviaís Uyuni Salt Flat, which is located in Potosi.
The goal is to develop different technologies to mine the lithium, Makusaki said.
Lithium-ion batteries are used to power a range of electronic devices, including cellphones, laptops and digital audio players.
The Uyuni Salt Flat, a dried-up sea bed that stretches over a more than 10,000-sq.-kilometer (some 4,000-sq.-mile) area, is the worldís largest reserve of the planetís lightest metal.
The Bolivian government says the salt flat contains 100 million tons of lithium reserves, although the U.S. Geological Survey puts the figure at just 9 million tons.