Piedmont Lithium (ASX: PLL) made several key achievements to drive its integrated lithium mine and chemical plans during the March 2021 quarter, including boosting its cash reserves by almost $160 million through a US public offering.
During the period, Piedmont also kicked-off a definitive feasibility study for its proposed integrated lithium business in North Carolina, and scooped up a strategic stake in Canadia-focused lithium explorer Sayona Mining (ASX: SYA).
To facilitate its lithium business plans the company also added industry veteran and former Albemarle vice president David Klanecky to its team.
Mr Klanecky is responsible for leading Piedmont’s US lithium business and development of its operational capabilities.
Redomicile to US
As part of the US public offer, Piedmont also continued with plans during the quarter to redomicile the company from Australia to the US.
The plans to redomicile were announced in December last year.
Under the strategy the Nasdaq Capital Market will become Piedmont’s primary listing platform, although the company will retain an ASX listing via chess depositary interests.
Definitive feasibility study
During the March quarter, a key achievement for Piedmont was the start of definitive feasibility study for the proposed integrated lithium business.
The study is expected to be completed in the September quarter and will include Metso Outotec’s alkaline pressure leach technology, which omits the acid roasting step of conventional spodumene conversion.
Additionally, the study will look at other enhancements to the proposed North Carolina mining operation including solar, in-pit crushing systems and the elimination of haul trucks.
All study enhancements are expected to improve the proposed business’ economics, while reducing carbon emissions, waste and consumption.
To ensure it has enough feedstock to meet its Tesla supply commitments and for its proposed lithium hydroxide chemical production, Piedmont scooped up a 19.9% stake in Sayona. It also acquired a further 25% interest in Sayona’s wholly-owned subsidiary Sayona Quebec.
Under the agreement, Piedmont will also purchase 60,000 tonnes per annum (or 50%) of Sayona’s planned spodumene concentrate production from its Quebec projects.
“The investments are additive to Piedmont from a resources and reserves perspective, and the spodumene supply agreement will offset our Tesla commitments in the near term and position us for longer term growth in lithium hydroxide production,” Piedmont president and chief executive officer Keith Phillips said of the deal.
As well as using the Sayona agreement for spodumene feedstock, Piedmont has also been actively building resources at its namesake project.
Earlier this month, the company reported a 40% increase to its resources to 39.2 million tonnes at 1.09% lithium oxide.
Of this, 55% is classified as indicated – 21.6Mt at 1.2% lithium oxide for 241,000t of contained lithium.
This spodumene resource is the only one in the entire US.