Piedmont Lithium Inc. (ASX, NASDAQ: PLL) has announced results from an updated scoping study for its proposed Carolina Lithium Project in the United States. The report confirms that the project will be one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost producers of lithium hydroxide, with a sustainability footprint superior to incumbent producers.
Carolina Lithium will be one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost producers of lithium hydroxide
The company also noted that the project is ideally located to supply the rapidly growing electric vehicle supply chain in the United States.
Updated scoping study completed
The company had recently completed the updated scoping study for its proposed integrated lithium hydroxide business, Carolina Lithium Project. Minviro, an industry-leading practitioner of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) impacts of manufacturing battery materials was engaged by Piedmont to complete a prospective LCA of the integrated lithium hydroxide operations.
The company said that the update was based on PLL’s Mineral Resource estimate reported in April 2021, of 39.2 Mt at a grade of 1.09% Li2O and the by-product Mineral Resource estimates comprising 7.4 Mt of quartz, 11.1 Mt of feldspar, and 1.1 Mt of mica reported in June 2021.
The fully integrated Study contemplates a 20-year project life, with the downstream lithium hydroxide chemical plant commencing 90 days after the start of concentrate operations. The chemical plant is assumed to achieve full capacity within 12 months.
Summary of production and cost figures for the integrated Project is as shown below.
Superior sustainability profile
PLL said that the life cycle analysis of key carbon intensity, water usage, and land footprint of Piedmont Carolina Lithium showed superior sustainability profile relative to the current producers based in China and South America.
The company noted that Metso Outotec process reduces emissions, eliminates sulfuric acid roasting, and reduces solid waste; solar power generation, in-pit crushing, and electric conveying reduce reliance on carbon-based energy sources; vastly diminished transportation distances for raw materials and finished product; highly efficient land and water use compared with South American brine production; far lower CO2 intensity than incumbent China hydroxide production including Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.
The result of the Independent preliminary Life-Cycle Analysis completed with Minviro is as shown below.
Exceptional economics and scale
The company said that the study confirms that Piedmont will be a large and low-cost producer of lithium hydroxide, benefitting from its ideal location in Gaston County, North Carolina, with exceptional infrastructure, a deep local talent pool, low-cost energy, and proximity to local markets for the monetization of by-product industrial minerals.
PLL said that the Study results represent a substantial improvement over prior studies despite the use of more conservative assumptions related to mining dilution and metallurgical recoveries.
The comparative outcomes of 2021 and 2020 scoping studies are as shown today.
PLL noted that the project is in a premier location in Gaston County, North Carolina – “the cradle of the lithium business”.
The company said that this provides advantages like the elimination of SC6 transportation costs and related noise and emissions; on-site solar complex to power concentrate operations and reduce reliance on diesel fueled equipment; potential to co-locate other downstream battery materials / Li-ion battery manufacturing; creation of up to 500 manufacturing, engineering, and management jobs; and potential to expand hydroxide capacity by adding additional manufacturing trains in the future.
“We are exceedingly pleased with the results of our updated Scoping Study”
Keith D. Phillips, President and Chief Executive Officer of PLL said: “We are exceedingly pleased with the results of our updated Scoping Study. The economics of our Project continue to impress, but I am particularly proud of the Project’s sustainability profile. Customers, investors, and neighbors are increasingly focused on businesses that are “doing things the right way.” It is critical that raw material supply chains do not detract from the overall sustainability of the transition to electric vehicles. Our project will have a far lower environmental footprint than alternative suppliers, and we expect that to position Piedmont well with all stakeholders.
As we move forward to complete a Definitive Feasibility Study for Carolina Lithium later in 2021, Piedmont has engaged Evercore and JPMorgan as financial advisors to evaluate potential strategic partnering and financing options for its North Carolina Project. Given the Project’s unique position as the only American spodumene project, with world-class scale, economics, and sustainability, we expect strategic interest to be robust.”
Image Source: Piedmont Lithium Inc.