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Piedmont says new scoping study confirms superiority of its lithium project

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(Kitco News) - Piedmont Lithium announced today that new Scoping Study confirms that Piedmont will be a large and low-cost producer of lithium hydroxide, benefitting from its ideal location in Gaston County, North Carolina, with exceptional infrastructure, a deep local talent pool, low-cost energy, and proximity to local markets for the monetization of by-product industrial minerals. 

The company said that the Study results represent a substantial improvement over prior studies despite the use of more conservative assumptions related to mining dilution and metallurgical recoveries.

Piedmont’s updated Scoping Study is based on the company’s Mineral Resource estimate reported in April 2021, of 39.2 Mt at a grade of 1.09% Li2O and the by-product Mineral Resource estimates comprising 7.4 Mt of quartz, 11.1 Mt of feldspar and 1.1 Mt of mica reported in June 2021.

The fully integrated Study contemplates a 20-year project life, with the downstream lithium hydroxide chemical plant commencing 90 days after the start of concentrate operations. The chemical plant is assumed to achieve full capacity
within 12 months.

The company said that the project will generate a steady-state average annual EBITDA of $401 million (compared to $218 million in previous study), an after tax NPV (8% discount rate) of $1,923 million (compared to $1,071 million in previous study), an after tax IRR % of 31% and a payback period of 2.92 years from start of operations (3.23 years in previous study).

The company added that the Study confirms that Carolina Lithium will be one of the world’s largest and lowest cost producers of lithium hydroxide, with a sustainability footprint that is superior to incumbent producers, all in an ideal location to supply the rapidly growing electric vehicle supply chain in the United States.

Piedmont expects superior sustainability profile relative to the current producers based in China and South America. The company explained that Chinese lithium producers are highly reliant on coal-fired power and generally utilize a carbon-intensive sulfuric acid roasting process to convert raw materials shipped in from Australia, while South American producers tend to utilize vast tracts of land and large quantities of water, all in the driest desert in the world, the Atacama.

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