Piedmont Lithium, a key lithium supplier to Tesla, is facing skepticism and anger from local North Carolina officials around their plan to mine lithium in the state. Piedmont is planning an open pit mine in North Carolina but has been stuck at the local and state level for approvals for years.
Per Reuters, the latest meeting with the Gaston County Board of Commissioners did not go well. First, the company came under flack as Piedmont’s CEO did not show up. In his place, the company sent technical experts on blasting, water and environmental concerns and parts of their legal team.
In addition to the snub by the CEO, the Board brought up concerns about how the mine could affect local wells in the area. During the meeting, Piedmont stated it did not foresee widespread drying up of wells due to the project. However, the company did admit that at least ten properties near the proposed site could run out of water. For its sake, Piedmont has offered to help those affected by drilling deeper wells or paying for connections to local water pipes.
Construction at the site is still up in the air. The Board needs a state mining permit before considering the necessary land zoning changes. However, the state mining permit has been in process for nearly three years, with Piedmont recently applying for a third extension for paperwork back in May.
The question is, will this project ever get off the ground, or will Tesla need to start finding a new stateside partner for lithium?