During the March quarter, Hatch finalised process flowsheet design for the planned 22,700 tonnes/per year lithium hydroxide chemical plant.
The PFS economics will be based on the concept of a merchant chemical business purchasing spodumene concentrate from the open market, which Piedmont expects will highlight the advantages of locating lithium chemical production in the south-eastern United States.
The chemical plant PFS and a fully integrated scoping study update remain on track for delivery in quarter two.
PLL expects to apply for and receive air key permits required for construction of the lithium chemical plant by the end of 2020.
Scoping study update
The scoping study update will incorporate the capital cost, operating cost and ramp-up outcomes from the chemical plant PFS, along with the PFS-level engineering estimates that were completed for the mine/concentrator in 2019.
It will also consider the economics of building the entire fully integrated project in a single stage.
Piedmont Lithium Project location
Assays from the final 19 drill holes of the phase four drilling program at the project’s Central and Core properties were received during the quarter.
- 36 metres at 1.11% lithium oxide and 44.9 metres at 1.30% lithium oxide,
- 13 metres at 1.28% lithium oxide and 7.3 metres at 1.37% lithium oxide, and
- 14.8 metres at 1.55% lithium oxide and 12.4 metres at 1.02% lithium oxide.
The lithium hydroxide bench-scale metallurgical program is currently underway at SGS laboratories in Canada.
While test work has been delayed due to impacts related to COVID-19, this is not expected to impact the overall development timeline.
The bench-scale program will produce lithium hydroxide samples for delivery to prospective offtake partners.
During the quarter, Piedmont continued preliminary offtake, financing, and strategic conversations with numerous parties from the lithium, mining, chemicals, battery, automotive and private equity sectors.
Offtake discussions also continued for lithium hydroxide and by-product quartz, feldspar and mica.
Piedmont has advanced conversations with several experienced lithium professionals with the aim of building out the company’s capabilities in construction, processing and marketing following the release of the PFS.
The company finished the quarter with a cash balance of US$9.0 million (A$14.5 million), which is sufficient to fund activities for four quarters at the current rate.
PLL is also well placed to advance the project more gradually in the event of a prolonged market downturn.