Piedmont Lithium (ASX: PLL) is back on the ground at its advanced namesake lithium project in North Carolina’s Tin-Spodumene-Belt.
The company will drill about 5,600m at the project, with drilling to target areas on the Core and Central properties.
Piedmont noted it will also explore regional areas which have not been drilled to-date.
About half the holes will be drilled within the eastern portion of Core. These holes will be testing two exploration target areas where outcropping mineralisation assayed up to 2.1% lithium.
Over at Central, five holes will build on phase four results and will focus on areas to the south and down dip of previous intercepts of 36m at 1.11% lithium, and 44.9m at 1.30% lithium.
Regional drilling will target high-grade soil anomalies, including Area one where samples returned up to 2.37% lithium.
“We are excited to once again have drill rigs in the field,” Piedmont president and chief executive officer Keith Phillips said.
“The Carolina Tin-Spodumene-Belt is one of the world’s most significant spodumene occurrences and there are many high-priority targets remaining on our properties.”
“Spodumene is the dominant feedstock for the fast-growing lithium hydroxide market, and with over 80% of the world’s hydroxide currently being produced in China, this is an opportune time for Piedmont to grow its mineral resources in the US,” Mr Phillips added.
The asset’s current resource totals 27.9Mt at 1.11% lithium for 764,000t of contained lithium carbonate equivalent.
Integrated lithium miner and chemical producer
Boosting resources at the Piedmont lithium project is part of the company’s strategy to become the world’s only integrated spodumene miner and lithium hydroxide producer outside of China.
A pre-feasibility study was published in May that estimated capital expenditure to develop the first spodumene plant would total US$377 million. This plant would produce 22,700tpa of lithium hydroxide for 25-years using spodumene sourced from the open market.
The study predicts this would generate annual EBITDA for Piedmont of US$149 million.
A scoping study into an integrated mine and plant estimates US$545 million in capital expenditure for annual EBITDA of US$218 million.
Analyst Roskill has placed Piedmont in the first quartile of the cost curve for its integrated production plan.
As a result of the positive economics, Piedmont will spend the next 12 months cementing requisite regulatory approvals, completing bankable feasibility studies, securing offtake agreements, and bedding-down project financing.