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LITHIUM | Piedmont Lithium


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Piedmont Lithium ‘The world’s best located lithium business’


LITHIUM | Piedmont Lithium

Between the 1950s and the 1980s, nearly all of the world’s lithium was produced from the Carolina Tin-Spodumene belt in the US state of North Carolina, and Piedmont Lithium is a young company which firmly believes that exciting mining opportunities still exist within this legendary lithium hotspot. Piedmont is a branch of the Australian mining incubator Apollo Group, and acquired its first North Carolina assets in July 2016 after Apollo’s New York City team decided to look for prospective deposits in the massive tin-spodumene belt. Apollo subsequently formed Piedmont, the group’s first lithium-focused business, which is perfectly located to take advantage of rising domestic demand for the metal, primarily from large-scale EV manufacturers.

activity on the Piedmont Lithium Project and appointed Wall Street veteran Keith Phillips as CEO and President three months later. Since then, Phillips has built the management team and led Piedmont’s progress on the project. “We have since concluded a large 12,000 metres drill programme (our Phase 2 programme) and are two-thirds of the way through a 20,000 metres Phase 3 programme. We’ve also added very strong people on the project management, process engineering and corporate side,” summarises Phillips.

The Carolina TinSpodumene belt The project is located along trend to the Hallman-Beam and Kings Mountain mines, the only two historic spodumene mines in the US, let alone within the Carolina TinSpodumene belt. The belt itself is a massive 40 miles long by one mile wide, which makes it somewhat surprising that only two mines have operated across the vast expanse since it was first identified by the US Geological Survey in 1942.

After partnering with prominent native North Carolinian geologist Lamont Leatherman,

But today, this relative paucity of further

Piedmont discovered a land package in the

exploration has provided Piedmont with

world-class Carolina Tin-Spodumene belt

ample opportunities to identify potential

and quickly acquired some initial land leases,

world-class deposits across its 1,200 acres of

completed successful initial drilling before

property in the region.

deciding to commit to the project. “It’s very clear its not mined out,” declares In April 2017, the company raised $5 million

Phillips. “It’s 40 miles long and there have

from the ASX capital market to support its

only been two mines on the property, and


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LITHIUM | Piedmont Lithium

when those mines were operating they

Consequently, Piedmont has strong grounds

provided virtually all of the world’s supply

to return to this once ubiquitous source of

of lithium. No more was really needed,

lithium in search of additional discoveries

so not a lot was done [in terms of further

to feed the ravenous contemporary lithium

exploration].”

market, and Phillips is confident that the project will deliver.

However, the lithium market of today is a different beast compared to its stature

“We’ll have our maiden resource out in June

throughout the second half of the 20th

and we believe that will be a world class initial

century. The discovery of new uses of lithium resource with substantial potential to grow. has transformed it into a massive growth

We have under-explored acreage under our

business that is 10 times larger than it used

control, and we continue to look for land on

to be and is still growing dramatically.


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the belt that has the potential to do more of

miles West of Charlotte, a booming city of

the same.”

2.4 million people and the second-fastest

‘Cradle of the Lithium industry’

growing city in the US. While it is not a mining boom town akin to Perth, Charlotte serves as a corporate headquarters for a catalogue of

Aside from being home to two major historic

major domestic businesses, including Bank of

spodumene-producing mines, this region of

America, Duke Energy and Nucor.

North Carolina has been named ‘the cradle of the lithium industry’ by Piedmont for a host

The city is also a domestic hub in the lithium

of additional reasons.

space, which is reflected by Albemarle and FMC, two of the world’s biggest lithium

The Piedmont Lithium Project is located 25

players, electing to build their headquarters


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in Charlotte. Furthermore, being the major

Another major advantage to working in this

growth city that it is, all the infrastructure

region is the remarkable affordability of land

one would expect is there - major interstate

even though the project is within touching

highways, rail, an airport and power of all

distance of the second fastest growing city in

descriptions.

the US.

“The area has also been negatively affected

Finally, when comparing the remaining

by the shutdown of a lot of textile and

costs of developing lithium mines with other

furniture plants in North Carolina, two of the

hotspots across the globe, it becomes clear

big three traditional industries in the state,

that Piedmont’s project is one of the best

along with tobacco,” reveals Phillips.

located lithium projects in the world.

“All three have been hit by new markets

Other major hard-rock deposits tend to be in

and developments and so there is a lot of

Northern Québec or Western Australia, which

skilled blue-collar labourers out of work or

are remote locations where labour camps

under-employed looking for jobs that we

need to be built and infrastructure is limited.

can offer.” The state is also home to multiple

The same goes for lithium brine deposits

universities, thus providing the perfect blend

found in high-altitude regions of the Andes in

of talent that is required for a sizeable mining

South America.

project.


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“For instance, in Québec most of the projects

December 2017.

require fly-in fly-out camps for the labour, which means labour costs will be more than

The comprehensive 20,000 metres infill

triple what we pay,” asserts Phillips. “WA is

drilling programme will contribute to the

much of the same and has high labour costs

definition of a maiden mineral resource and

as well as high costs for power, diesel, and

is also aggressively testing the extensions of

natural gas.

the pegmatites identified both along strike and down dip.

“We will have significant CAPEX savings compared to those projects. We think ours

An initial exploration target of between 10 to

is a wonderful mineral belt, one of many

15 million tonnes at a grade of between 1%

wonderful lithium belts in the world, but I

and 1.25% lithium oxide is currently has been

can’t think of any lithium as well located as

estimated by Piedmont’s partner CSA Global.

ours.”

A busy 12 months

As of April 2018, the Phase 3 drilling programme is two thirds complete with

Piedmont has already racked up a series of

six drill rigs on location and over many

accomplishments on its project over the last

holes being assayed. Drilling results will be

12 months, with many more targets also

released on a regular basis over the next

in the pipeline to 2020. Having completed

several weeks, followed by a maiden mineral

its Phase 1 and 2 drill programmes, the

resource announcement by the end of Q2

company started its Phase 3 programme in

(June).


Australian Resource Business Global Network

Piedmont also commenced its scoping

“The most important targets are in somewhat

study in January 2018, with Primero Group

chronological order: The ongoing drill

coordinating the study along with CSA. Both

programme, the US listing, the maiden

are very experienced in hard rock lithium

resource in June, which is well at hand. Fourth

mining and downstream production.

is metallurgical work which is underway, and we expect that to be largely completed in

SGS has also been a key partner on the

time for our scoping study in July/August.

project, providing all assaying services, while on the metallurgical analysis side Piedmont is

“Once we have a scoping study in place,

working with North Carolina State University’s

we will launch right into a pre-feasibility

Mineral Research Laboratory, a pioneer in

study and that will take us into the permit

the development of spodumene processing

application process and we will also continue

techniques, and Colorado-based Hazen

to develop relationships with potential

Research. Finally, the local Charlotte office

strategic and offtake partners.”

of global engineering firm HDR is leading the permitting process.

Full steam ahead

The scoping study will assess feasibility for a fully-integrated mining project including mine, concentrator, and lithium conversion

More recently, Piedmont has been working

plant to be located in the mining-friendly

on a secondary listing in the US that Phillips

North Carolina region.

hopes to complete by the end of April, which is one of several sequential targets that the company expects to hit over 2018.

104


LITHIUM | Piedmont Lithium

Being able to deliver lithium in a readily

like to be able source battery materials from

usable form is going to be crucial for

the US,” he proclaims. “The battery materials

Piedmont in terms of seeking potential

supply chain is going to evolve very rapidly in

offtake agreements with end users,

the US and we are one of the only domestic

particularly from the growing EV market as

sources with any real chance of coming to

the race to mobilise viable lithium sources

development.

heats up. “Our impression is that the offtake issue will However, in the eyes of Phillips it is the

take care of itself, so long as the project is

location of the project that will have domestic

viewed to be of a sufficient scale and quality,

EV manufacturers queueing up to buy

which is the purpose of the resource, scoping

Piedmont’s lithium.

study and metallurgical work.”

“Every automotive company in the US would

Being integrated downstream will also


Resource Global Network Piedmont expects to complete its scoping study by Q3 2018, before submitting a permit submission towards the end of Q4. After a 12-month permitting timeline, the company will be clear to build its mine and downstream facilities. Therefore, the Piedmont Lithium Project is set to enter production by 2020, a date that has been widely forecasted to herald the beginning of a revolution in the domestic EV industry. “This EV boom is a secular trend that is massive and far bigger than people give it credit for. I think we are rapidly approaching a point where every major car company in the world is committing very aggressively to electrification. “They are investing billions of dollars of capital into that process and they are identifying sites and committing to them.� introduce new revenue streams for

Once they commit, there is no turning back

Piedmont, in the shape of by-products.

and Piedmont will be waiting at the front of

The company has done initial work on the

the domestic lithium supply chain with its

recoveries and flotation for by-products

arms open wide.

including quartz, feldspar and mica which there are already markets for in North Carolina. This by-product credit from these sources has the potential to significantly sweeten the project economics.

a j


Published by Anderson Murray Media Ltd

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