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US-based Piedmont Lithium has selected Etowah, McMinn County, Tennessee, US, as the location to build its proposed lithium processing plant to supply the growing electric vehicle (EV) industry.

Expected to be the US’ largest lithium hydroxide processing plant, the facility will be equipped to produce 30,000 metric tonnes per year (mtpa) of lithium hydroxide.

Piedmont will invest $600m to develop the facility, which is planned to start production in 2025 and create 120 direct jobs.

The new processing facility is expected to contribute to the US Government’s efforts to boost domestic production of lithium, a critical metal used for EV batteries.

The US has set a target to increase lithium hydroxide production capacity to 60,000tpa by 2026 from the current 15,000tpa.

The project will convert spodumene concentrate, which will be sourced by Piedmont principally from international project investments.

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By GlobalData

Piedmont Lithium president and CEO Keith Phillips said: “The rapid electrification of the automotive market has led to massive investments in electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery production in the United States, creating a critical need for lithium hydroxide produced in the US.

“Our Tennessee lithium operation should play an important role in helping to mitigate supply shortages in the American EV industry and battery supply chain, particularly in the wake of recent legislation incentivising the use of domestically sourced critical materials and providing tax credits for US producers.”

Kiewit and Primero Group will be responsible for the front-end engineering design for the Tennessee lithium project.

Piedmont said it has selected the state for the development of the project due to its access to infrastructure, including rail, road and river transportation, as well as its proximity to the battery and automotive plants being constructed, among others.