Piedmont Lithium (ASX: PLL) is a step closer to developing its wholly-owned namesake project in North Carolina after securing a federal permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
According to Piedmont, the section 404 permit is the only federal approval needed to develop the US-based mine and concentrator.
“Securing a section 404 individual permit is a major milestone for any natural resource project in the US, and we are very pleased to have received this authorisation,” Piedmont president and chief executive officer Keith Phillips said.
“We will now move forward with the permitting of our chemical plant operations during 2020.”
“Our project is unique in being the only spodumene-to-hydroxide project in the US, and now also stands out as the most advanced lithium project from a permitting perspective,” Mr Phillips noted.
He added the company was “very excited” about the upcoming milestones for the project including delivering a definitive feasibility study next year, which evaluates the viability of building integrated lithium hydroxide capability.
Piedmont lithium project
An updated scoping study on the Piedmont lithium project was based on a mineral resource of 27.9 million tonnes at 1.11% lithium for 764,000t of contained lithium carbonate equivalent.
The study indicated a 25-year project life to produce 3.8Mt of spodumene concentrate over that period.
Piedmont hopes to generate lithium hydroxide with the study estimating the project could produce 489,000t of the product over 25 years.
Earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation of US$298 million per year is forecast from the study after initial capital expenditure of US$512 million.
Piedmont also pointed out the mineralisation was shallow and open along strike and at depth.
In addition to the lithium product, Piedmont expects to produce by-products which will reduce cash costs.
It is expected 86,000tpa of quartz will be generated along with 125,000tpa feldspar and 13,000tpa of mica.
These products are used in solar, industrial ceramics, glass, frit, specialty paints, filler and joint compound.