Concern over Piedmont Lithium mine project continues; company seeks procedural matter with Cherryville

Concern continues over a proposed lithium mine project in Gaston County near Cherryville. Piedmont Lithium wants to build mines/process lithium on 1,500 acres
Published: Apr. 10, 2023 at 7:46 PM EDT
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CHERRYVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some of our cars, your wireless earbuds, and the power tools in your garage all have something in common, they need lithium batteries to work.

For more than five years now, Piedmont Lithium has been developing plans to bring lithium production to North Carolina with a mine sitting at the edge of Gaston County.

As the company seeks a procedural matter with the city of Cherryville, people are also weighing in on the production that could become a norm in their neighborhood.

Brian Stein, the owner of Stein Gear and Machine Company, a business not far from the proposed development, believes the mining process could hurt his business.

Chuck Buchanan who lives near the proposed lithium mine site said, “It’s the quality of life in that area and the just the environmental impacts that this mine is going to have.”

Concern continues over a proposed lithium mine project in Gaston County near Cherryville.

Piedmont Lithium wants to build mines and process lithium on 1,548 acres, not far from where Brian Stein works and lives on Hephzibah Church Road.

Stein said, “It would be an environmental disaster, also, it will affect our water supply, all of the community homes around here are on well water.”

People living in the area tell WBTV they’ve been fighting against the project for years since the idea was raised in 2017.

Outside of water and environmental concerns, Stein tells me it would hurt his business.

Stein added, “We’re very close, the blasting would also affect us, it actually in our business venture – it will not allow our machinery to hold tolerance because we make gears, power transmission components.”

Stein said he would have to move his business of 50 years from that area if the mines are approved.

Piedmont Lithium is currently asking Cherryville to relinquish part of their extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) where five parcels of land sit for the project.

“I don’t see how it would benefit the city of Cherryville to give up their ETJ,” said Stein.

Most of the 1,548 acres for the project are in Gaston County with 137 acres in the Cherryville ETJ.

Piedmont Lithium tells WBTV relinquishing the ETJ to Gaston County would help streamline the rezoning process for the project.

Buchanan said, “I would think that would be a concern because it kind of sets a precedent right? If Cherryville kind of okays it, you know Gaston County commissioners make look at that and kind of give them the green light.”

Piedmont Lithium said relinquishment does not impact whether the project or the rezoning process moves forward, and people will still be able to take part in the rezoning process.

“I don’t think the benefits outweigh the risk, the risk to our environment, our way of life, and ultimately our property value,” said Buchanan.