May 30 (Reuters) – North Carolina regulators on Tuesday asked Piedmont Lithium Inc (PLL.O) for additional information needed to approve the company’s mine permit application, the third such request since the review process began in 2021.
The proposed mine, if built, would become one of North America’s largest sources of lithium for electric vehicle batteries for Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and other automakers, but it has faced extensive opposition from neighbors worried about water and noise pollution, among other factors.
State officials gave the company 180 days to provide additional details on 10 areas, including plans for arsenic testing, whether technical experts would be licensed in North Carolina and how the mine’s waste rock storage pit would be lined.
Piedmont first applied for the permit in August 2021. The state asked for additional information in October 2021 and in January 2022. The company‘s deadline to respond to the January 2022 request was extended twice.
Piedmont, which moved its headquarters to North Carolina in 2021 from Australia, said it was reviewing the request and would respond as timely as possible.
“We remain extremely pleased with the significant progress we have made in our planning to date and are committed to taking the necessary time to appropriately complete the state permitting process,” said Monique Parker, Piedmont’s senior vice president of safety, environment and health.
Reuters reported in 2021 that Piedmont’s failure to detail its plans for residents of North Carolina’s Gaston County, just west of Charlotte, had prompted local officials to delay necessary zoning changes until after the company received its state mining permit.
Amid the North Carolina review process, Piedmont in 2021 invested in Quebec-focused Sayona Mining Ltd (SYA.AX) and Ghana-focused Atlantic Lithium Ltd (A11.AX), deals that give it access to lithium from both companies. Piedmont on Tuesday said it expects to start receiving shipments from Sayona by September.
Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Leslie Adler
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