Piedmont Lithium will build a second 30,000 mt/year lithium hydroxide conversion plant in the US to accommodate its growing portfolio of spodumene supply assets, and a site selection process for the project is currently underway, the company said Feb. 3.
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"Piedmont aspires to be America's leading lithium hydroxide producer, and our international spodumene investments in 2021 were made with this objective in mind," the company said in a statement. "Key considerations for site selection include available infrastructure, supply logistics, proximity to prospective automotive and battery customers and anticipated permitting requirements."
A final site selection for the plant is expected in the second quarter, the company added.
Through its own planned spodumene concentrate production and its 2021 investments tied to potential offtake agreements, the lithium producer said it now could have access up to an estimated 500,000 mt/year of spodumene supply for its planned conversion facilities once its projects are operational.
"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," CEO Keith Phillips said. "This electrification of the automotive market is a generational investment opportunity, and we are uniquely well positioned to capitalize on it."
Piedmont is currently developing its fully integrated flagship Carolina Lithium project near Bessemer City, North Carolina, that is also expected to produce up to 30,000 mt/year of lithium hydroxide and 242,000 mt/year of spodumene concentrate. Commercial operations for the production complex do not yet have an official start date.
Once operational, Carolina Lithium could become the world's only fully integrated spodumene ore-to-hydroxide project, Piedmont said.
In 2021, the North Carolina-based company announced investments in Sayona Mining and Atlantic Lithium to increase its access to spodumene concentrate supply.
Piedmont holds offtake rights to 50% of the spodumene that will be produced by the 180,000 mt/year North American Lithium project in Quebec, which it now jointly owns with Sayona. Production at the site could begin in the first half of 2023.
Through its investment in Atlantic Lithium, Piedmont is exploring spodumene resources at the Ewoyaa Project in Ghana with first production possible in 2024. Ewoyaa is projected to produce about 300,000 mt/year of spodumene concentrate, and Piedmont has an offtake agreement in place for 50% of its annual output.