Piedmont releases Carolina BFS

PIEDMONT Lithium has reported a feasibility study for its integrated Carolina lithium hydroxide business in North Carolina, to supply the rapidly growing electric vehicle supply chain.
Piedmont releases Carolina BFS Piedmont releases Carolina BFS Piedmont releases Carolina BFS Piedmont releases Carolina BFS Piedmont releases Carolina BFS

A render of Piedmont Lithium's hydroxide plant plan for North Carolina, USA

The study detailed a lithium hydroxide plant capable of producing 30,000 tonnes per year for 30 years at an estimated cash cost of US$3657 per tonne, to initially be fed by ore from reserves for 11 years which will later be supplemented via offtake agreements and spodumene concentrate purchased in the market.

The study detailed an after-tax net present value of $2 billion at an 8% discount rate and an internal rate of return of 27%, with a 3.5-year payback following a $988 million initial capital investment based on a long-term reference price of $18,000/t.

A final investment decision is expected in 2022, with the company looking to obtain debt finance via the US Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program.

"We are exceedingly pleased with the results of the feasibility for the Carolina lithium project, which we believe confirm its industry-leading sustainability profile as well as exceptional economics while incorporating the substantial capital and operating cost inflation experienced during 2021," Piedmont president and CEO Keith Phillips said.

Carolina contemplates a single, integrated site, comprising quarrying, spodumene concentration, by-products processing and spodumene conversion to lithium hydroxide.

The Gaston County site in North Carolina will be an integrated site which will eliminate unnecessary transportation costs and truck movements. It will feature electric-powered conveyors to eliminate mine trucks, reduce noise, dust and diesel-based CO2 emissions. It will also feature an on-site solar complex to power concentrate operations.

Additional ore sourcing could be from the company's interest and take-off rights at other projects. Piedmont holds a 25% equity interest in Sayona Quebec and North American Lithium along with a 50% life-of-mine offtake right to spodumene concentrate produced by Sayona Quebec. It also has an earn-in right to acquire a 50% interest in Atlantic Lithium's Ghanaian project portfolio including the Ewoyaa project and a 50% life-of-mine offtake right to spodumene concentrate produced by Atlantic Lithium.

Carolina has an estimated resource of 44.2 million tonnes grading 1.08% Li2O and by-products of 7.4Mt of quartz, 11.1Mt of feldspar and 1.1Mt of mica.

Commercial production is estimated to start 24 months after the start of construction, with full production achieved within 12 months from the start of production.

Shares in Piedmont are trading at A79c, valuing the company at $2.5 billion.