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Tennessee lithium project, US – update

Image of lithium ore

Photo by © Bloomberg

26th May 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Tennessee lithium project.

North Etowah Industrial Park, in McMinn County, Tennessee, in the US.

Project Owner/s
Piedmont Lithium.

Project Description
The Tennessee lithium definitive feasibility study results demonstrate a robust technical and financial case for Piedmont to establish a merchant lithium hydroxide manufacturing business in the US using spodumene concentrate from market sources, including the existing offtake agreements secured by the company in 2021.

The DFS has concluded that the project will operate for 30 years and produce 30 000 t/y of lithium hydroxide at steady state from about 196 000 t/y of 6% lithium oxide spodumene concentrate, or SC6, bought at market rates from third parties. 

Piedmont has selected Metso:Outotec’s alkaline pressure leach process, rather than traditional acid roasting, for the production of lithium hydroxide at the project. By eliminating the use of sulphuric acid, the pressure leach process is expected to reduce solid waste generation and overall air emissions.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has an estimated net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of $2.5-billion and an after-tax net present value of 32%, with a payback of 5.3 years from the start of production.

Capital Expenditure
Initial capital is estimated at $809-million.

Planned Start/End Date
The project is expected to start construction in the third quarter of 2024, with commissioning expected to start in the second quarter of 2026 and then ramp up to nameplate capacity in the fourth quarter of that year.

The schedule remains subject to ongoing design engineering, permitting approvals, spodumene concentrate supply sourcing, EPC contract negotiation, market conditions and project financing activities.

Latest Developments
Piedmont Lithium has indicated that it is open to a partnership for the Tennessee lithium project, depending on the appetite from investors.

Following the positive DFS for the project, Piedmont’s focus has been on securing project financing.

Tennessee will be partly funded from cash flows generated by Piedmont’s North American Lithium (NAL) joint venture with fellow listed Sayona Mining, as well as a $141.7-million grant from the US Department of Energy.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Kiewit Engineering Group (FEED contractor); Primero Group Americas (lithium hydroxide plant design and overall study integration); Metso:Outotec (manufacturing technology package); HDR Engineering (environmental and permitting support and project controls); Carolina Material Technologies (product packaging plant designer); and PLG Consulting (spodumene logistics consultants).

Contact Details for Project Information
Piedmont Lithium, tel +1 704 461 8000 or email

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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