Piedmont Lithium receives mining permit in North Carolina

Tesla supplier Piedmont Lithium has received an important mining permit in North Carolina to develop one of the largest lithium sources in the US.

Image: Tesla

The mining permit issued by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, subject to conditions, relates to the lithium project planned by Piedmont Lithium in Gaston County. The application submitted in 2021 has now been reviewed and approved by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s (NCDEQ) Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources (DEMLR).

According to a contract concluded in 2020, Piedmont Lithium originally intended to start supplying Tesla from here by July 2023 at the latest. Due to delays in the project, Piedmont Lithium negotiated an amended supply contract with Tesla in early 2023, according to which Tesla will initially be supplied from Canada.

“We plan to develop Carolina Lithium as one of the lowest-cost, most sustainable lithium hydroxide operations in the world, and as a critical part of the American electric vehicle supply chain,” said Piedmont Lithium President and CEO Keith Phillips. “Carolina Lithium is a highly strategic project. Located within both the renowned Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt and the U.S. Battery Belt, the Project is being designed as a fully integrated mining, spodumene concentrate, and lithium hydroxide manufacturing operation.”

The project is not quite ready to launch yet, however, as permits for state air quality and wastewater must still be obtained. Chad Brown, chair of the county board of commissioners, says that the permits will not be considered until July, due to the county’s annual budget review process. “We will not rush into anything. We’ll listen to Piedmont, and we’ll see what happens,” Brown said in an interview with Reuters. “This mine would have a big economic impact on the county, but it also could have tremendous environmental impacts.” Furthermore, the approval process has been fraught, as the company and local legislators have not been in full communication, according to the Reuters report: “Despite spending years buying acreage, hiring investment bankers and inking a supply deal with Tesla, Piedmont did not approach county commissioners until July 2021 with its plans. The company also did not apply for a state mining permit until the following month. Those strategic missteps have fueled mistrust across the county.”

Piedmont Lithium is a global actor and is also planning to open a lithium mine in Ghana in 2025, and in Quebec. Tesla is also not the only customer, as early last year, LG Chem revealed that it would source lithium from the company’s Canadian stores.

reuters.com, piedmontlithium.com


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