28 March 2013

This is Free Market Mousketeer Bullsh%$

Bolivia President Evo Morales is looking about setting up a state owned concern to refine his country's huge lithium deposits:
Is Bolivia poised to become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” the vital ingredient in batteries for smartphones and electric cars?

The Uyuni salt flats, stretching across a remote Andean plateau in the southwest of the country, are easily the world’s largest reserve of the soft, light, whitish metal coveted by high-tech firms from Silicon Valley to Tokyo.

This year, President Evo Morales has moved swiftly ahead with plans to finally begin reaping a potential lithium windfall of billions of dollars for the impoverished South American nation.

In January, Bolivia opened its first trial plant. It will produce 40 tons of lithium carbonate a year. Over time, the government wants to ramp production up to 30,000 tons — roughly a fifth of current global demand.
Of course there are some potential difficulties, the salt flats are both moist, and contain a fair amount of magnesium, which makes extraction more difficult.

But here is the assumption that seems to be everywhere these days that just pisses me off:
Meanwhile, Morales’ socialist administration’s go-it-alone attitude — including recent nationalizations of everything from utilities to airports — may mean it will have problems accessing the foreign technology needed to process the lithium.
This is bullsh%$.

If they want the technology, they will get it the same way that multinational megacorporations do today: they buy the f%$#ing technology.

Exxon, BP, and all the rest don't know how to do difficult drilling, they hire companies like Halliburton or Slumberger for their expertise in deep water drilling, they hire companies like Transocean for its expertise in building deep water rigs.

I'm not talking about industrial espionage here, it's that companies have increasingly outsourced core competencies in the name of cost savings, and these are now available freely for sale.

You hire a company to do the design, you hire another to do the construction, and if you have any sense, you structure it so as to ensure that the local folks get at least a general understanding of the process when you do this.

Ain't capitalism grand?


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