Piedmont Lithium (ASX: PLL) has completed a bench-scale lithium hydroxide test work program which demonstrates the company can process ore from its mine and convert that to battery-quality lithium hydroxide.
This, along with the company’s binding agreement to supply electric vehicle maker Tesla spodumene concentrate from its North Carolina deposit, are the main takeaways from the latest quarterly report.
The Tesla deal is for an initial five years with a binding price to be settled from the first delivery of concentrate.
Piedmont Lithium’s quarterly report explains that the lithium hydroxide produced during the test work was generated from spodumene concentrate extracted from core samples taken from the company’s hard-rock lithium project.
“Quality results compare favourably with current market specifications for battery quality lithium hydroxide,” the company noted.
The lithium hydroxide produced was exactly the same as the specifications laid down by China, and by chemical companies Livent of Philadelphia and Ganfeng located in Xinyu city, Jiangxi province.
Tests show planned chemical plant will work
Piedmont says the recent test work confirms the company’s ability to produce an end product via an “ore to hydroxide” conversion route consistent with the chemical plant design as outlined in the recent pre-feasibility study.
Piedmont Lithium holds a 100% interest in the Piedmont lithium project, a pre-production business targeting the manufacturing of 22,700 tonnes per annum of battery quality lithium hydroxide in North Carolina to support electric vehicle and battery supply chains in the United States and globally.
Piedmont says its “premier” location includes favourable geology, proven metallurgy and easy access to infrastructure, power, research and development centres for lithium and battery storage along with major high-tech population centres.
Piedmont has reported mineral resources of 27.9 million tonnes grading 1.11% lithium oxide located within the Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt (TSB) and along trend to the Hallman Beam and Kings Mountain mines, which historically provided most of the western world’s lithium between the 1950s and the 1980s.
During the September quarter the company resumed drilling its properties within the Carolina TSB.
The program of 5,600m is underway Piedmont’s exploration target areas as well as at untested spodumene occurrences on regional properties.
Spodumene preferred feedstock for lithium hydroxide
Subsequent to the quarter, Piedmont raised US$57.5 million (A$81.2 million) through an offering in the US of depositary shares.
The offer was initially for US$50 million (A$70 million), but the underwriter exercised its option to purchase the additional shares.
President and chief executive officer Keith D Phillips said the company was “extremely proud” of the key milestones achieved during the September quarter.
“Our agreement with Tesla highlights the strategic importance of Piedmont’s unique American spodumene deposit and confirms the trend toward spodumene as the preferred feedstock for the lithium hydroxide required by high-nickel batteries,” he added.
“Our relationship with Tesla represents the start of the first US domestic lithium supply chain.”