Strategic Review Backs Expansion of Production at North American Lithium
Strategic Review Backs Expansion of Production at North American Lithium

Strategic Review Backs Expansion of Production at North American Lithium

  • 10-Apr-2024 2:27 PM
  • Journalist: Peter Schmidt

Piedmont Lithium, a prominent global provider of lithium resources crucial to the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) supply chain, has announced that, subsequent to an extensive operational assessment, the joint venture partners of North American Lithium (NAL) have reached a consensus to finalize various ongoing capital projects and sustain operations with the objective of achieving steady state production by the end of 2024.

NAL, jointly owned by Piedmont (25%) and Sayona Mining (ASX: SYA) (75%), commenced production in March 2023 and has since demonstrated consistent enhancement. Notably, process plant recoveries have surpassed internal projections, marking a significant milestone in NAL's ramp-up endeavor. Lithium recoveries for the month of March have reached 69%, exceeding the ramp-up target of 67%, while global recovery from July 2023 to March 2024 stands at 62%. Moreover, production of spodumene concentrate has exhibited steady growth, with March 2024 witnessing the attainment of multiple daily production records, including the latest record of 740 metric tons. Present plant throughput rates align with forecasted expectations at 161 tonnes per hour, maintaining consistent product quality at 5.45% Li2O, with moisture and other elements within anticipated ranges.

The joint venture partners conducted an operational evaluation to gauge the pace of production ramp-up amid a challenging lithium price landscape. The assessment determined that operations are generally progressing as scheduled, with the impending completion of two critical capital enhancement projects — a crushed ore storage dome and a crushed ore re-feed system, both slated for commissioning in May 2024. These projects are anticipated to facilitate production escalations and deliver notable unit cost efficiencies. Moreover, improvements in unit mining costs are projected as operations transition beyond underground workings and into fresh ore by the latter part of 2024.

Keith Phillips, President and Chief Executive Officer of Piedmont Lithium, emphasized the strategic significance of NAL within the company's portfolio, underscoring its importance to customers and the broader market. Despite the challenges posed by the prevailing lithium market conditions, Phillips expressed optimism regarding NAL's ramp-up trajectory. With the imminent finalization of pivotal capital improvement initiatives expected to drive production escalations and operational cost optimizations, he reiterated confidence in NAL's resilience and long-term viability, poised to capitalize on anticipated market recovery and thrive in the future.

Piedmont Lithium Inc. is in the process of establishing a top-tier, multi-faceted lithium enterprise with a prime objective of facilitating the transition to a net-zero world and fostering the development of a sustainable energy economy in North America. The overarching aim of Piedmont Lithium is to emerge as a key player in the North American market for lithium hydroxide production, achieved through the processing of spodumene concentrate sourced from assets in which the company holds a vested economic interest.

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