Piedmont Lithium (NASDAQ: PLL; ASX: PLL) says the government has granted it permits to construct a lithium hydroxide plant in Tennessee although the cost has increased by a third.
The now-US$800 million project 265 km southeast of Nashville would process about 27,000 tonnes a year of the battery metal starting in 2026, Patrick Brindle, executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer of Piedmont said in an emailed reply to questions on Monday. The company intends to land a major investor and raise financing before construction starts next year, Brindle said.
“Our projected investment costs for Tennessee Lithium have increased over time as we have engaged in more detailed engineering work and refined our operational plans," the COO said. “Material costs also have increased.”
The plant would more than triple lithium processing in the United States as scores of junior miners continue to enter the lithium space on the strength of government funding to minimize climate change and to reduce reliance on China’s metal processing. The facility also already has off-take agreements with automaker Tesla and LG Chem. Canada alone has more than 400 mostly early-stage lithium projects eager to feed automakers. They in turn are ramping up production of battery powered vehicles, and power generators are pursuing ways to store more energy.
The Tennessee project is among other planned lithium processing plants, including in Nevada by American Battery Technology (US-OTC: ABML) and in the Midwest by privately held Stardust Power. The United States Department of Energy has already awarded a US$141.7-million grant to Piedmont and discussions are continuing on how to apply it, Brindle said.