The government of Bolivia has concluded a $300m deal with Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear engineer, to build a research complex that will lay the technical basis for the country’s future civil nuclear industry.
Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, told reporters that the centre would include a cyclotron for producing isotopes for use in radiotherapy, a gamma irradiation plant for crop preservation and a research reactor.
He said that at present, Bolivia was the only Latin American country that did not have a facility of this type, but now would have the "most modern and largest" in region. Completion of the work is expected in four years.
This will be the most advanced centre in Latin America– Luis Alberto Sanchez, Bolivian Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy
The agreements were signed by the Bolivian Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy, Luis Alberto Sanchez, and the director general of Rosatom and Russian former prime minister, Sergei Kirienko, and must be ratified by the legislature and government within a period of two weeks
According to Rosatom the centre will be equipped with "state-of-the-art equipment for researches within the framework of the national nuclear and research program of Bolivia".
Kirienko said: "Besides the construction of the centre and the research reactor, we will also provide training for future specialists, equip laboratories and arrange nuclear fuel supplies. This will be the most advanced centre in Latin America."
The construction will take place on a 15ha site at El Alto, outside La Paz. At 4,100m above sea level, this is the highest altitude that a nuclear facility has ever been built, according to Rosatom. The government had planned to site the complex on the southern outskirts of La Paz, but protests by residents last month forced a rethink.