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The ASX- and Nasdaq-listed company said that 30 000 t/y of planned production would be coming from the fully integrated Carolina lithium project, while a further 30 000 t/y of production would be produced at a second planned US plant, with site selection expected in the second quarter of this year.

“We are developing our assets at an opportune time with global sales of electric vehicles having doubled in 2021, and large US battery plant investments being made by major automotive and battery companies,” said Piedmont president and CEO Keith Phillips.

“This electrification of the automotive market is a generational investment opportunity, and we are uniquely well-positioned to capitalise on it.”

Phillips said that the company was advancing its flagship Carolina lithium project through key permitting, engineering and project financing steps.

“Our recent feasibility confirmed the strategic nature of Carolina lithium, with a net present value exceeding $2-billion and independent assessments confirming its impressive sustainability profile. We expect Carolina lithium to be a critical factor in furthering the US’ progress towards lithium self-sufficiency.”

The Carolina project will produce 30 000 t/y of lithium hydroxide, for an initial capital investment of $988-million. A bankable feasibility study emphasizes an initial ore reserves only production target of 11 years of spodumene concentrate to be processed at the company’s chemical plant, which will be located adjacent to mining operations.

The study also incorporates assumptions of additional lithium hydroxide production sourced from offtake agreements which allow the company to secure spodumene from alternate sources, increasing the chemical plant life to 30 years.

Phillips said on Friday that in addition to Carolina lithium, Piedmont is also progressing its two international investments and its plans to develop a second lithium hydroxide conversion plant.

“We are collaborating with our partner, Sayona Mining, to capitalise on strong lithium market conditions through the restart of spodumene concentrate production at our jointly owned North American Lithium business in Quebec. Long lead equipment has been ordered and production is expected to commence in the first half of 2023. Exploration activities are continuing at Ewoyaa project, in Ghana, and along with our partner Atlantic Lithium, we plan to complete a feasibility study in 2022, with first production possible in 2024.

“These significant spodumene assets support our plans to launch a second 30 000 t/y lithium hydroxide conversion plant. US lithium demand is soaring, and domestic lithium hydroxide capacity is currently a fraction of what will be required in the mid- to late 2020s.”