Australia-listed junior Piedmont Lithium has competed the first resource estimate in more than 30 years in the historic Carolina tin/spodumene belt, in the US, which was home to most of the world’s lithium production and processing between the 1950s and 1980s.
The estimate for its Core property, which is located 5 km north of the historic Hallman-Beam mine of FMC, is a mineral resource of 16.19-million tonnes at 1.12% lithium oxide (Li2O), containing 182 000 t of Li2O, or 450 000 t of lithium carbonate equivalent.
About 52%, or 8.50-million tonnes, of the mineral resource is classified in the indicated resource category.
In addition to the maiden resource estimate, Piedmont has also announced a new exploration target of 4.5-million tonnes to 5.5-million tonnes at a grade of between 1.1% to 1.2% Li2O.
The North Carolina region where Piedmont is active continues to be home to the US lithium processing facilities of Albemarle and FMC.
Piedmont, which maintains a listing on the ASX, said on Thursday that it was focused on completing a scoping study in the third quarter, which would reflect its strategy of building an integrated lithium processing business in North Carolina.
CEO Keith Phillips commented that the project’s location had many significant advantages.
“There are many interesting lithium projects being advanced around the world, but Piedmont has the only project based in the industrial heartland of the United States and the cradle of lithium production, with all the economic and strategic benefits that derive from that position,” he commented in a news release.
Piedmont has partnered with North Carolina State University’s Minerals Research Laboratory to undertake bench and pilot scale metallurgical testwork programmes for spodumene concentration. Testwork is expected to start this month.
Bench scale conversion testwork to demonstrate Piedmont’s ability to convert spodumene concentrate to battery-grade quality lithium hydroxide monohydrate and lithium carbonate is planned for the second half of the year.
Shares in Piedmont advanced 11% to A$0.20 each on the ASX on Thursday.