Piedmont Lithium, Inc. announced the selection of Etowah, Tennessee in McMinn County as the location of the Company’s planned 30,000 metric ton per year (m.t./yr) LHP-2 lithium hydroxide operation (Tennessee Lithium). With a planned completion and start of production in 2025, the company believes Tennessee Lithium will be the largest lithium hydroxide processing facility constructed in the United States. The Project is expected to convert spodumene concentrate sourced principally from Piedmont’s international project investments to significantly expand the U.S. supply of lithium hydroxide, a key component in the manufacturing of EV batteries.
“Companies like Piedmont Lithium choose to call Tennessee home because of our unmatched workforce and strong business climate,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “I thank this company for its investment in McMinn County and commitment to create nearly 120 manufacturing jobs for Tennesseans.”
“We are excited to announce the site of our newest project and partnership with the City of Etowah in McMinn County, and the State of Tennessee, as we advance our strategic goal of becoming a leading lithium supplier in the United States,” said Keith Phillips, President and Chief Executive Officer of Piedmont Lithium. “We are humbled by the warm welcome we have received from our new partners, and we look forward to making Piedmont an integral part of the Etowah and McMinn County communities as we develop Tennessee Lithium together for our mutual success.”
Piedmont’s Tennessee Lithium facility should be among the first lithium hydroxide plants built with the innovative Metso:Outotec process. This process eliminates the acid-leaching of spodumene and the production sodium sulfate waste, which will make Tennessee Lithium one of the world’s most sustainable lithium hydroxide operations.
Tennessee Lithium’s production target of 30,000 tpy of lithium hydroxide will complement the Company’s planned Carolina Lithium operation to bring our estimated total U.S.-based production capacity of 60,000 tpy by 2026. Current total U.S. production of lithium hydroxide is just 15,000 tpy.
“The rapid electrification of the automotive market has led to massive investments in electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery production in the United States, creating a critical need for lithium hydroxide produced in the U.S.,” said Phillips. “Our Tennessee Lithium operation should play an important role in helping to mitigate supply shortages in the American EV industry and battery supply chain, particularly in the wake of recent legislation incentivizing the use of domestically sourced critical materials and providing tax credits for U.S. producers.”
The Project’s location in Tennessee was selected for its cooperative government relations, access to excellent infrastructure including rail, road and river transportation, a talented workforce, a constructive business climate, as well as its proximity to the battery and automotive plants being constructed by prospective customers, and the Company’s headquarters and Carolina Lithium project, both in Gaston County, North Carolina.
Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) for Tennessee Lithium will be performed by Kiewit and Primero. FEED will conclude in H1 2023 and position Piedmont to sign an EPC contract for the construction of Tennessee Lithium upon completion of permitting and project financing activities. As part of FEED, Kiewit and Primero are expected to complete a DFS for Tennessee Lithium by the end of 2022.
“Site selection and FEED award are important 2022 milestones toward potential first production from Tennessee Lithium in 2025,” said Piedmont Lithium EVP and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Brindle. “We’re pleased to align ourselves with top-tier contractors Kiewit and Primero and, having announced our site selection, we will proceed to develop the relevant permit applications for the Project. Tennessee Lithium is expected to share many attributes with our planned Carolina Lithium operations, including the use of the core Metso:Outotec technology package. In conjunction with FEED, the Kiewit and Primero teams should leverage the work we’ve accomplished over the past several years to deliver a definitive feasibility study of Tennessee Lithium by the end of this year. We hope to break ground here in Etowah on the earliest practically achievable timeline.”
Based on prior studies, Piedmont plans to invest approximately $600 million in the development of the operation. The Tennessee Lithium Project is expected to drive significant economic activity and create approximately 120 new, direct jobs.
The timeline for the progression of the Company’s global portfolio of four projects and estimated start of production date for each facility is as follows:
- 2023: Quebec Project / North American Lithium restart – SC6 production planned for H1 2023
- 2024: Ghana Project – spodumene concentrate; preliminary feasibility study (PFS) Q3 2022
- 2025: Tennessee Lithium – lithium hydroxide production from Ghana and/or NAL concentrate
- 2026: Carolina Lithium – integrated spodumene concentrate and lithium hydroxide production
Development of each of the Company’s planned projects is dependent upon receipt of permits necessary for construction and operations as well as project financing.