LA PAZ – Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said on Wednesday the country was embarking on a new economic era thanks to its production of electrical energy for export and its plans to develop nuclear energy for scientific and medical purposes.
The economic contribution of those sectors will modify the structural bases of Bolivian society, Garcia Linera said at a press conference.
He mentioned thermoelectric plants built in recent years, large dam projects for generating hydroelectric energy for export and geothermal energy projects.
Those projects are diversifying Bolivia’s economy, which has been heavily reliant on natural gas exports to Brazil and Argentina.
Garcia Linera also hailed a nuclear research center that is being built with Russian cooperation in El Alto, a city near La Paz, and is expected to yield health care and agricultural advances.
Looking ahead to the coming decades, Bolivia is looking to invest in nuclear fusion research, Garcia Linera said.
Although nuclear power plants cannot currently produce energy via that type of reaction, Bolivia hopes to one day leverage its tritium resources as a raw material in that process.
One of the Bolivian government’s biggest pending projects is to develop its world-leading reserves of lithium – from which tritium is produced – for industrial use.
Garcia Linera also referred to the country’s newly created Economy Ministry, which he said would be responsible for overseeing domestic power supplies, the construction of large hydroelectric projects and the development of nuclear energy for civilian and scientific purposes, as well as negotiating electricity export deals.
The new Economy Ministry, created Monday as part of a Cabinet reshuffle, was split off from the Hydrocarbons Ministry, which oversees Bolivia’s natural gas and oil industries.