The Tennessee Lithium project is a lithium hydroxide plant that will be located in Etowah, McMinn County, Tennessee. (Credit: Piedmont Lithium Inc.)
Conceptual Design of the 30,000 TPY Tennessee Lithium Plant. (Credit: Piedmont Lithium Inc.)
Industry and Infrastructure Near North Etowah Industrial Park. (Credit: Piedmont Lithium Inc.)

The Tennessee Lithium project (also referred to as LHP-2) is a planned lithium hydroxide production facility in McMinn County, Tennessee, the US.

The project is being developed by Piedmont Lithium.

Tennessee Lithium is being designed to produce 30,000 metric tonnes of lithium hydroxide (LiOH) annually by processing spodumene concentrate.

The results of the preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the project were announced in March 2022. The Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) was completed in April 2023.

In July 2023, Piedmont Lithium received a Conditional Major Non-Title V Construction and Air Permit for the Tennessee Lithium project from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

With this permit, the company secured all material permits required to begin construction of the lithium hydroxide production facility.

Tennessee Lithium project has also received a $141.7m grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in October 2022.

Construction of the approximately $800m project is expected to commence in 2024, with first production slated in 2026.

The operational life of the project is estimated to be 30 years.

Tennessee Lithium Location

The Tennessee Lithium site will be developed in the North Etowah Industrial Park in McMinn County. The site is approximately 3.5miles north of Etowah, Tennessee, and 6miles southeast of Athens, Tennessee.

Piedmont purchased the 279-acre site situated between Chattanooga and Knoxville for the project in August 2022.

The company selected the location due to easy access to key infrastructure including rail, road, and river transportation, as well as workforce and business climate.

The company may also use the Hiwassee River located near the project for barge transportation via the Tennessee River system.

Tennessee Lithium Hydroxide Plant Details

According to the DFS, Tennessee Lithium will produce 30,000 metric tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year at steady state using approximately 196,000 tonnes per year (tpy) of 6% Li2O spodumene concentrate (SC6) purchased from third parties at market rates.

Piedmont will procure lithium concentrate as feedstock from Atlantic Lithium Ewoyaa Lithium Project in Ghana. It may also purchase spodumene concentrate from Sayona Quebec to support operations at Tennessee Lithium.

Instead of traditional acid roasting, the company has selected Metso:Outotec’s alkaline pressure leach process, for lithium hydroxide production at Tennessee Lithium. This process eliminates the use of sulphuric acid and reduces solid waste generation and overall air emissions.

The use of alkaline pressure leach process is also expected to be more efficient and environmentally sustainable compared to the conventional one.

In 2021, a pilot plant test work was undertaken by Metso:Outotec using a spodumene concentrate sample from the Carolina Lithium project to assess the process.

Metso:Outotec’s test work indicates that 196,000tpy of SC6 spodumene concentrate will be required to produce 30,000tpy of battery-quality lithium hydroxide, which indicates a 91% lithium conversion rate.

The project will also create around 120 new, direct jobs.


The project will include lithium hydroxide manufacturing, rail siding, and ancillary facilities. A storage facility is expected to be built for the analcime tailings from the pressure leach conversion process.

Power will be supplied to the project site via a 161kV transmission line tap on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) transmission system. The line tap will be provided by Etowah Utilities and will be connected to a new local substation.

The substation will reduce the voltage from 161kV to 13.8kV for power distribution on the project site.

Piedmont has also entered into agreements with Symmetry Energy Solutions to secure capacity reservations for natural gas supply from the City of Etowah.

Contractors Involved

Multiple independent consultants were associated with the preparation of Tennessee Lithium DFS.

Kiewit Engineering Group was selected by Piedmont as the front-end engineering design (FEED) contractor, while Primero Group Americas was selected for LiOH plant design and overall study integration.

PLG Consulting was commissioned to evaluate logistics alternatives for the delivery of spodumene concentrate to the project site.

HDR Engineering was engaged for environmental and permitting support and project controls.

Carolina Material Technologies worked as the product packaging plant designer, while Metso:Outotec was responsible for the LiOH manufacturing technology package.