Piedmont Lithium, a leading global developer of lithium resources critical to the U.S. electric vehicle ("EV") supply chain, announced that it has been selected for a $141.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE") – one of the first set of projects funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for EVs and the electrical grid and for materials and components currently imported from other countries. The funding will support the construction of the Company’s approximately $600 million Tennessee Lithium project, which aims to expand the U.S. supply of lithium hydroxide by 30,000 metric tons per year ("tpy"). Lithium hydroxide is a key component of high energy density, long-range, electric vehicle batteries.
Piedmont President and CEO Keith Phillips said the Company is honored that the Tennessee Lithium project has been selected for this DOE funding. "The U.S. government is putting investment dollars behind its policies to support energy independence and national security, and we are grateful to be selected to help spur critical, domestic development of the EV battery supply chain," said Phillips. "Over 80% of lithium hydroxide production today occurs in China. This grant will accelerate the development of the Tennessee Lithium project as a world-class lithium hydroxide operation, which is expected to more than double the domestic production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide in the United States."
Located in Etowah in McMinn County, Tennessee, Piedmont’s Tennessee Lithium project is being designed to produce lithium hydroxide from spodumene concentrate using the innovative Metso:Outotec process flow sheet, enabling lower emissions and carbon intensity as well as improved capital and operating costs relative to incumbent operations. The Tennessee Lithium project is expected to drive significant economic activity in McMinn County and create approximately 120 new, direct jobs.
"We are pleased that the DOE has chosen to support our Tennessee Lithium project, and we are committed to being responsible stewards of these grant funds," said Piedmont Chief Operating Officer Patrick Brindle. "This funding will enable us to accelerate detailed engineering and place orders for long-lead items." Construction at the Tennessee Lithium project is slated to begin in 2023, subject to permitting and project financing timelines, with production expected to commence in 2025.
As part of the Company’s selection for this DOE funding, Piedmont has been invited to negotiate the specific terms of the grant, including timing and any co-funding. The final details of the project grant are subject to these negotiations. The grant will not be final until Piedmont and the DOE have agreed to the specific terms of the grant. Once the terms have been finalized, funding of the grant will remain subject to satisfaction from time to time of conditions precedent set forth in those terms.
When the Company’s current portfolio of lithium assets becomes fully operational, Piedmont expects to produce 60,000 tpy of lithium hydroxide in the United States, where current domestic production is only approximately 15,000 tpy. Piedmont’s estimated production should position the Company to serve the growing U.S. battery manufacturing industry, which has made announcements of capital investments exceeding $50 billion for new U.S. battery plants. These battery plants are expected to require more than 600,000 tpy of lithium hydroxide.
The Tennessee Lithium project is a core project in Piedmont’s development plans, with the Company anticipating production to come online on the following schedule:
- 2023: Quebec – spodumene concentrate production at North American Lithium
- 2024: Ghana – spodumene concentrate production at Ewoyaa
- 2025: Tennessee Lithium – lithium hydroxide production from spodumene concentrate sourced from our international investments
- 2026: Carolina Lithium – integrated spodumene concentrate and lithium hydroxide production