tcd004 writes "You can literally scrape valuable lithium off the ground of many Bolivian salt flats. The country is poised to be the center of world lithium battery production, reaping the benefit of the metal's skyrocketing value. 'The US Geological Survey says 5.4 million tons of lithium could potentially be extracted in Bolivia, compared with 3 million in Chile, 1.1 million in China and just 410,000 in the United States. ... Ailing automakers in the United States are pinning their hopes on lithium. General Motors next year plans to roll out its Volt, a car using a lithium-ion battery along with a gas engine. Nissan, Ford and BMW, among other carmakers, have similar projects.' However, the government fears foreign countries might exploit their natural resources, so for the time being, the salt flats remain untouched."