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Piedmont Lithium’s plans to provide Tesla face skeptical North Carolina officers By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Piedmont Lithium’s headquarters is seen in Belmont, Gaston County, North Carolina, U.S., July 16, 2021. REUTERS/Ernest Scheyder

By Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) -Piedmont Lithium on Tuesday drew skepticism and anger at a gathering with native North Carolina officers about its plans for a lithium mine that might provide the electrical car battery metallic to Tesla (NASDAQ:).

Shares fell greater than 3% on Wednesday, the primary buying and selling session after the assembly.

The open-pit mine, if accepted, can be one of many few lithium-producing websites in america, however there was little progress in gaining approvals for the undertaking, which the corporate has been attempting to rise up and operating since 2018.

On the public assembly with the Gaston County Board of Commissioners, which controls zoning adjustments, officers had been irked that Piedmont CEO Keith Phillips didn’t attend and expressed concern that the 500-foot-deep (152 m) mine might trigger wells within the space, which many residents depend on, to run dry.

“I do not wish to see any of our residents ever be put in that place,” Commissioner Allen Fraley stated on the assembly, which was webcast. “How would you prefer to get up one morning and your properly’s dry?”

Piedmont stated it will be open to serving to its neighbors in these conditions dig deeper wells or hook up with municipal water provides.

Piedmont stated Phillips didn’t attend as a result of its technical specialists did as an alternative. The corporate introduced employees centered on environmental and authorized points, in addition to specialists on blasting, water and different technical areas. The informational assembly was a follow-up to the same one held in 2021.

The undertaking, which has divided the county of roughly 230,000 simply west of Charlotte, underscores broader rigidity within the U.S. as those that are immune to residing close to a mine conflict with those that imagine america should reduce its dependence on China for lithium and different strategic minerals to deal with local weather change.

Piedmont first signed a deal to provide lithium to Tesla in 2020 from North Carolina. That deal was paused earlier than being renegotiated in January after Piedmont discovered a short lived supply for the metallic from a Quebec lithium mine during which it has an funding. Piedmont’s entry to that Quebec provide is anticipated to finish by 2026.

In Gaston County, Piedmont will want the board to approve a zoning variance earlier than it might probably construct the undertaking. The board has stated it won’t think about such a change till the corporate receives a state mining allow. Piedmont has been in search of a allow for practically two years.

Piedmont officers stated they’d purpose to not discharge processed water into native waterways. They added that Piedmont was additionally open to funding a mine reclamation bond “a lot bigger” than the $1 million required by state rules, although they didn’t present a certain amount.

A number of residents spoke in opposition to the proposed mine on the assembly. None spoke for it.

Piedmont stated it thought the assembly went properly. “Our objective was to reply questions and open a dialogue,” stated spokesperson Erin Sanders.

Brown, who has been a commissioner since 2010 and is a candidate for North Carolina secretary of state, described the assembly as a “combined bag.”

“I wish to be pro-economic improvement,” Brown stated. “However I am frightened concerning the environmental influence of the mine and the financial influence after it closes.”



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