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Piedmont increases resource at North Carolina lithium project

Piedmont Lithium project, North Carolina. (Image courtesy of Piedmont Lithium.)

Piedmont Lithium (Nasdaq: PLL) has prov

ided an updated mineral resource estimate for its flagship Carolina Lithium project in North Carolina after completing Phase 5 infill drilling.

When the Australian lithium miner announced in September 2020 that it signed a five-year deal to supply Tesla with spodumene concentrate from its eponymous US lithium project, its stock soared.

The updated resource estimate for the project now comes to 44.2 Mt at 1.08% Li2O, of which 64% is classified in the indicated category. The updated indicated resources represents a 100% increase relative to that previously reported under Australian standards.

“We are very pleased…to further expand our world-class resource base. Carolina Lithium has one of the largest spodumene resources in North America, and the only one located in the United States,” Piedmont CEO Keith D. Phillips, said in a news release.

Piedmont plans to create the first US domestic hard rock lithium supply chain, Phillips said last year. The only other lithium operation in North America is Albemarle’s brine facility, Silver Peak, in Nevada.

Piedmont’s resource update comes a day after reports came out that the company is facing two federal lawsuits from shareholders for allegedly misleading them on the proposed lithium mine, which is supposed to be supplying high-purity battery mineral to Tesla, starting between July 2022 and July 2023.

However, the supply timeline was postponed earlier this year with no definitive date of the first shipment given, as North Carolina communities and officials continue to voice concerns over the project.

While Piedmont had previously stated that it is “optimistic” about obtaining state regulatory approval for the North Carolina lithium project and have it fully funded by mid-2022, the county in which the project is located has since modified several mining-related standards to its zoning regulations, which may affect the project.

A local report by WCNC in Charlotte revealed that one of the lawsuits alleged the company’s past statements “failed to disclose that Piedmont lacked local support” for its lithium project, and that it “failed to file proper applications for permits with the relevant governmental authorities.”

In the lawsuits, the plaintiffs are asking Piedmont to pay back the money they lost after the company’s stock price fell following the surge on the Tesla announcement.

The company is currently working towards a definitive feasibility study for Carolina Lithium, which it plans to publish later this year.

Shares of Piedmont Lithium declined by 4.7% by 12:30 p.m. EDT in New York. The company has a $A1.2 billion market capitalization.