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Piedmont Lithium officials to meet Gaston commissioners Tuesday

A site plan shows potential location of surface mines and processing facilities at the proposed Piedmont Lithium site.
Piedmont Lithium
A site plan shows potential location of surface mines and processing facilities at the proposed Piedmont Lithium site.

Officials from Piedmont Lithium will update Gaston County Commissioners Tuesday night for the first time in two years on their plans for a lithium mine and processing plant near Cherryville.

The Belmont-based company wants to build the operation on about 3,000 acres of what's now residential and agricultural land. The mine project occupies about half the site, where plans call for four open pits more than 500 feet deep. Piedmont plans to supply lithium for electric vehicle batteries.

Piedmont officials have not met commissioners since July 2021. Commissioners were skeptical about the proposal during a meeting that included an hour of comments from neighbors, environmentalists and other opponents. They expressed concern about potential environmental damage, traffic and other threats to the area's quality of life.

The company says its directors of communications and health and safety will address the commission.

"We've been working with the county staff for the past two years as the project plans have developed and it's time now to present more details about the project to the commissioners. We'll address how we plan to minimize the impact on the environment and community while supporting the critical need for American lithium resources," Erin Sanders, Piedmont's senior vice president of communications and investor relations, said in an email.

She will lead the presentation along with Monique Parker, Piedmont's senior vice president for safety, environment and health.

Opponents with the group Stop Piedmont Lithium are also planning to attend.

The company had hoped to be in production by now, but Piedmont still needs a state mining permit and zoning approval from the Gaston County Commission. Officials said this spring they hope production can begin in 2027.

The Gaston County Commission meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Gaston County Courthouse. It's a non-voting work session.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.