$90 million federal grant awarded to reopen lithium mine in Kings Mountain
The money will help purchase mining equipment.
KING MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WBTV) - The United States is racing to sustain the national battery supply chain as things swing to more electric vehicles.
This week, the Department of Defense awarded Albemarle Corporation a $90 million grant to restart mining operations in Cleveland County.
The money will help purchase mining equipment for the Kings Mountain mine.
The city manager of Kings Mountain, Jim Palenick, said that a total of $240 million from the federal government has been awarded to restart mining in the city.
The mine in Kings Mountain shut down in the 1980s and the facility currently processes lithium brought to the site.
While it’s exciting for the battery supply chain, the city wants to make sure it’s the right move for the community.
“What you have here is one of, if not the only source of hard rock lithium in the United States,” said Palenick.
According to Albemarle Corporation, the lithium deposits would initially support the manufacturing of 1.2 million electric vehicles each year.
Palenick said, “There’s a lot of due diligence that still has to go into this from the city’s perspective, we’ll be dealing with truck traffic, with noise, with dust, with water issues, with environmental issues, so all of that must be worked out, there has to be a permit for a special use that hasn’t been granted yet.”
The city said the mining operation will take up 1,500 to 1,800 acres along Interstate 85 that is developable land, so there’s an economic loss if the mine reopens.
“We’ve continued to be very concerned about how this will impact our community, we’ve engaged some of the very best professionals in the entire United States when it comes to both legal matters related to lithium mining, as well as engineering matters,” said Palenick.
People near Cherryville in Gaston County have expressed environmental and health concerns about a possible mine coming to their area.
Kings Mountain officials said that it has the same attorney as Gaston County to ensure the city is safe.
Palenick said, “We understand there’s an awful a lot of federal and state pressure to make this happen, but at the same time we’re definitely going to look out for the best interest of our community and I think that’s a policy question for our city council. They’ll have some difficult decisions to make and we’ll assess that as it comes up.”
Kings Mountain officials said they don’t plan to be an obstacle but want to make sure the city is safe.
Pending permits and approval, Albemarle Corporation wants to begin operations of the mining facility by late 2026.
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