Permit approved for company to mine lithium in Gaston County

BELMONT, N.C. — Piedmont Lithium has been approved for a mining permit in Gaston County, the company announced Monday.

The news has been years in the making. Back in August 2021, the mining company presented its plan for the Carolina Lithium project to county commissioners.


From 1950 to the 1990s, most of the world’s lithium came from Gaston County, CEO Keith Phillips told Channel 9 in 2021. Now, it’s mined in Australia and shipped to China to be converted. Phillips said he wants to change that.

Piedmont Lithium leaders said the project would make Gaston County the U.S. leader in the electric vehicle supply chain. It would bring hundreds of jobs to the area, but some are concerned about the long-term impact the mining might have.

“I don’t know what comes out in the air,” said Gaston County resident Dennis Dellinger, adding, “I don’t think you need nothing like that around here. I mean, it’s already too crowded around here now.”

On Monday, Piedmont said the permit for mining in Gaston County had been approved by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

“This is an exciting day for all of us at Piedmont Lithium,” Phillips said in a statement.

In his vision, hundreds of northwest Gaston County acres will be home to the only spot in the world where people mine spodumene concentrate. It will then be converted to lithium chemicals on-site.

The demand for lithium resources is skyrocketing, with car companies wanting long-lasting batteries for electric vehicles and tech companies using it in mobile phones. Phillips said the $840 million project will create hundreds of good-paying jobs and position Gaston County to land more businesses, contributing billions of dollars in economic impact.

Phillips said now that the mining permit is approved, the next step to move Carolina Lithium forward is to go through the county’s rezoning process. They also still need state permits regarding air quality and wastewater, but that’s routine.

“Construction would commence following receipt of all required permits, rezoning approvals, and project financing activities,” he said.

According to Reuters, Gaston County Commission Chair Chad Brown says it’ll be July at the earliest before commissioners get to Piedmont’s rezoning request.

The CEO said there are ongoing talks about how Carolina Lithium will be funded. Those include the possibility of federal funding.

(WATCH PREVIOUS: Piedmont Lithium grilled by Gaston County commissioners, residents over proposed mining operation)

Evan Donovan

Evan Donovan, wsoctv.com

Evan is an anchor and reporter for Channel 9.