Piedmont Lithium, together with its project partner Sayona Mining, has produced the first batch of spodumene concentrate (SC6) from the North American Lithium (NAL) project.

NAL is owned by Sayona Québec, a joint venture between Piedmont and Sayona Mining.

Last year, the two companies officially launched plans to restart spodumene concentrate production at NAL, including an estimated $80m investment in operational upgrades.

The project batch produced about 70 metric tons of SC6 as part of commissioning, with the first shipment of saleable products targeted for the third quarter of this year.

Piedmont Lithium executive vice president and chief operating officer Patrick Brindle said: “This initial production from NAL underscores the diligence and dedication of the management team to restart the mine and concentrator both on time and on budget.

“NAL is the most advanced lithium project in terms of development in the U.S. and Canada, and we expect the operation to provide the only major source of new SC6 production in North America in the near term.”

In addition to the interest in Sayona Quebec, Piedmont also holds the right to offtake more than 113,000 metric tons per annum or 50% of the joint venture’s SC6 production.

The company has also signed agreements with LG Chem and Tesla to provide spodumene concentrate from NAL, starting from the second half of this year.

Sayona Mining has indicated a target of four shipments from NAL by the end of this year, totalling 85,000 to 115,000 metric tons.

NAL is a brownfield open-pit mining operation located in La Corne township in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, Québec, Canada.

It lies 60km north of the city of Val d’Or, a major mining service centre, and in proximity to Sayona’s Authier Lithium project.

The project comprises 19 contiguous claims covering 582.31 and one mining lease, covering around 700ha.

In December last year, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans granted the final permit required to restart operations at NAL.