Bolivia - The Electric Range

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Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Mark Corcoran, published by ABC broadcasted as part of ABC Foreign Correspondent series in 2010 - English narration

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Image: Bolivia-The-Electric-Range-Cover.jpg

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The Electric Range Broadcast: 27/07/2010 Reporter: Mark Corcoran

From the fossil-fuel fug enveloping Bolivia’s capital La Paz, it takes a diesel-powered four-wheel drive 12 hours – winding through precipitous mountain passes and bumpy back roads - to reach its destination.

But when the Salar de Uyuni finally ranges into view it takes your breath away.

Thousands of square kilometres of white salt - flat as a marble bench and as far as the eye can see.

What you can’t see is the epic wealth lurking below the crust. The world’s biggest reserves of a mysterious, and increasingly valuable metal. Lithium.

Until recently its uses were limited and obscure. Lithium has been used to treat mental illness and to build nuclear weapons. But mobile phones, miniaturisation and now the flight to hybrid and electric vehicles has seen its uses and value soar. Lithium is an important ingredient enabling batteries to store and expel power.

Lithium is really the next oil, the next gold. So it’s amazing what could happen. JUAN CARLOS ZULETA Bolivia’s Mr Lithium

What could happen is a giant missed opportunity.

Bolivia’s socialist leader Evo Morales wants to keep a tight hold on the reserves and harvest the lithium bonanza on his own terms. Bolivian owned and Bolivian operated is the mantra. It’s sprung from a deep suspicion of foreign companies, powerful nations like the USA and Japan and losing out to plunderers through history. But Bolivia remains in a kind of pre-industrial time warp.

“They want us to speed up the handover of lithium and to move faster towards capitalist partnerships But the government’s policy has been determined; we’re going to take our own decisive steps towards the process of industrialising lithium.” JOSE PIMENTEL Bolivian Mines Minister

Mark Corcoran takes us on the ride of a lifetime. From the bizarre and cavernous La Paz to the expansive nowhere of the Salar, 3,700 metres above sea level. The assignment: to see if this economically stunted nation, mired in its past can take a giant leap into the future and out of poverty. Oh, and to take in some awe-inspiring landscapes.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x264 core 93
  • Video Bitrate: 1800 kbps
  • Video Resolution: 1008x572
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frames Per Second: 25
  • Audio Codec: AAC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
  • Audio Streams: 2ch
  • Audio Languages: English
  • RunTime: 26min
  • Part Size: 367Mb.
  • Writing application: Avidemux 2.5.3
  • Format: Matroska
  • Source: DVB-T

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