More than just a tourist destination: Bolivia's salt flats are key to its future

Bolivia hopes it will revolutionize its economy by becoming "the Saudi Arabia of lithium" as global demand for the resource explodes.
7:12 | 09/21/18

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Transcript for More than just a tourist destination: Bolivia's salt flats are key to its future
How ts popular tourist spot is elevating econo ?????? Rorter: Thealar de uyi. Thing but salt for 400square MI it I so bright out here you to wear sunglasses and be cover F head to toe at all timewe are in boliviacrest the des, at the largest salt flatthe world. It looksik red wonderland but these crystals leave a bitter taste. 100%al that's salty. Ad some water this set but beneh this surface is a major moneymaker. Lithium. The metal elemehat P our lives todand Bolivia, one of the poesries in americopes it will revoluize its enomy by becoming the Saudi Ara of lithium but to that a moment. These refcting poo hav madenternational destinaon. Rsohy this spo particuls so popular, jus ook Dow it's wet de. Reflection. It makes a gathoto. An elevationmost 12,000 feet, thsalaras once several prehistorices that dried out, creating these agons. But beyond its beauty, the flats provide theaseat used to create everythg fro this art to local five-star hots where everything is M of salt, walls, the floor even the furre. Oviding livelihood for some of the locals. Each Y, the Cham broths P in their truck and navigate the barren landscape to work, T this slice of the salar, their rk sit ey're kno as Ros O Sal miners. Choppi sawing, sg each block of salt for sale. Language this small par oalar is known as the ook from a. This family has been mining of thesefor five generations. Just aeneration O, their business wit nsumers across Bolivia seeking it out. These da, it mostly goes to Catt and construction, but each brick sells for about 50 cents. On't makehealthy, B it's enough to support their young lies. Just anour away, in ear, a entity is making money , the government this is Bolivia's secretive pilot lithium 155 square miles have been setaside T house itsanding facilities. The F that hits you is the size of this place. We've been dring F maybe 45 minutes, reached thin offices liany nationaltrsures, its vast length protected by the mitaand this is what's so closely guarded. Lithiu carbonate. White gold the pla export $25,000 a T to cntes like the U.S., Russia, and Japan. Ishat the end or the beginning? The beginning. Reporter: Marco, head of implementationnd engineing, ourde to each step of the production process. Mostee deep there are of wells on site just like this tapping T saltwathe brine geextract from the that well right there, goes up through tip and gets fed all the Y to one of T M fostep, the brine stays inhese pools for six months, giv or ke, where the hot and cstant wind lithium from the salt athimpuriti th evaporation. One of the first things notice O after color of the brine is Thell. 'S kd of lik R is miles one hisri shuttles us betle dangerous here to drive on for certain cars. Lly, the mt stagrd hats ba on. Lithiums processed heres Wes potassm, anoth brine by-product, whi Ty always sell. The procetarts up top, ly trickles down, goesh the conyor bend it feeds the mache. 8, this factory expected to00 tons of lithium, but expl000 tons oe large neighbong plants finished next year. That's anincrse of 750%. If is is a hugeuccess and maybe one day up their salar. Will that ever happen? Ery step in this O I meticulously monitored equal control desert-like location inacugh that the plant ha to its employee they L he for two weeks at a time, and T the get Brea for seven days. Pla is self-contained meals to exercise, there'en linic. And then there Dowe. Condoreti shows us his Q so, threople sng this pace. But it's E Otake look. PlayStation 4. There all the gesere's the 2018. Guess what? You're nng to believe win with the recently announced $1.3 billion deal with the German com to expand pruction, adding credibility to Bolivia's gamble,um could liftconomy. You think it'she future of lie lithium plant? Could they ure here? Ng foreignanage ] And global F indeed seem brighter. And next, theatn the heartwarming story of a little

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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