US-focused Piedmont Lithium (ASX: PLL) is expanding a current drilling program at its namesake project in North America’s prolific Carolina tin-spodumene belt by an additional 25,000m and three new rigs.
The rigs will arrive at the project’s Core property in the coming weeks with the aim of upgrading the project’s inferred mineral resource to measured and indicated categories.
The current resource sits at 25.1 million tonnes grading 1.09% lithium oxide split 50:50 across inferred and indicated.
Piedmont has previously reported 27.9Mt of mineral resources grading 1.11% lithium oxide along trend to the Hallman Beam and Kings Mountain mines, which have historically produced most of the western world’s lithium between the 1950s and 1980s.
The expanded program will also explore numerous spodumene-bearing pegmatites discovered in recent months within the south-east portion and to the north of Core.
These discoveries are still awaiting assay results.
Piedmont aims to complete its expansion activities during the coming 12 months but said its schedule could well be impacted by the ongoing effects of COVID-19.
Piedmont chief executive officer Keith Phillips said there are plans to publish an updated mineral resource estimate for Core in mid-2021 to support ore reserves and the completion of a definitive feasibility study.
“We are excited to be aggressively expanding our drilling program with five rigs soon to be in the field [and] the dual objective of upgrading current inferred resources and growing the overall scale of our mineral resource tonnage,” he said.
“[We are located in] one of the world’s most prolific lithium belts and we are hopeful we will ultimately delineate North America’s largest spodumene resource to power the region’s clean energy storage and electric vehicle revolution.”
The Piedmont lithium project is targeting the production of 160,000t per year of spodumene concentrate and the manufacture of 22,700t per year of battery-quality lithium hydroxide to support US and global supply chains.
The project is located within favourable geology with proven metallurgy and easy access to infrastructure, power, lithium research and development centres, and downstream lithium processing facilities.
Piedmont is also planning an update to the mineral resource estimate at its Central property in mid-2021 based on the results of exploration drilling in September.