Piedmont’s lithium deliveries to Tesla postponed indefinitely

Piedmont Lithium has indefinitely postponed the first deliveries of lithium chemicals to Tesla. Originally the deliveries were to begin between July 2022 and July 2023.

Reuters writes (citing an unnamed Piedmont representative) that the decision was made by mutual agreement with Tesla. There is no new date or timeframe for the start of deliveries. Tesla has not yet responded to requests for comment.

The contract, signed in September 2020, actually called for Piedmont to begin supplying Tesla sometime between July 2022 and July 2023. This was to be spodumene concentrate (SC6) from the Piedmont deposit in North Carolina. Tesla was to have received around 53,000 tonnes per year.

The reason for the delayed delivery to Tesla is likely to be delays in the mining project itself. In July, North Carolina state officials had expressed concerns about the Piedmont project. As Reuters writes, this could delay or even block the project altogether. Piedmont, on the other hand, plans to apply for a mining permit this month.

“We have built in some degree of flexibility based upon the needs of our customers and their timelines, and that consideration is mutually agreed upon,” Piedmont spokesperson Brian Risinger as saying. However, the company is apparently still looking for more investors for the US$840 million (€707 million) project in North Carolina. Piedmont also wants to apply for a loan from a US Department of Energy loan programme to partially finance the project, which is intended to promote advanced vehicle manufacturing technologies.

Tesla itself wants to process Piedmont’s spodumene concentrate at a plant in Texas near the Gigafactory under construction in Austin to extract lithium hydroxide for battery production. At least Tesla applied for a permit for such a plant in April. It is not known when this is to go into operation.

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