Piedmont Lithium selected Etowah, Tennessee, as the location for its planned 30,000 metric ton per year (mt/y) LHP-2 lithium hydroxide (LiOH) operation. With the start of production scheduled for 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 projects in Quebec and Ghana to significantly expand the U.S. supply of LiOH, 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.”

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.

“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 Piedmont Lithium President and CEO Keith Phillips. “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 $600 million Tennessee Lithium facility should be among the first LiOH plants built with an innovative Metso: Outotec process. This process eliminates the acid-leaching of spodumene and the production of sodium sulphate waste, which will make Tennessee Lithium one of the world’s most sustainable LiOH operations.

Tennessee Lithium’s production target of 30,000 mt/y of LiOH will complement the company’s planned Carolina Lithium operation to bring its estimated total U.S.-based production capacity of 60,000 mt/y by 2026. Current total U.S. production of lithium hydroxide is just 15,000 mt/y.

“The rapid electrification of the automotive market has led to massive investments in electric vehicle and Li-ion battery production in the United States, creating a critical need for LiOH produced in the U.S.,” Phillips said. “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.”

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 COO 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. We hope to break ground here in Etowah on the earliest practically achievable timeline.”

Piedmont is planning a production restart of its North American Lithium (NAL) operation in Quebec for during the first half of 2023. The company is also hoping to publish a preliminary feasibility study for spodumene concentrate from Ghana during Q3 2022. NAL and Ghana would be sources for the Tennessee Lithium 2025 production. Piedmont is targeting integrated spodumene concentrate and LiOH production from Carolina Lithium in 2026.