BELMONT, N.C. — On Wednesday, Piedmont Lithium, a diversified developer of lithium resources, opened the doors to its new headquarters in Belmont.
U.S. Senator Thom Tillis was in attendance showing his support for the company. The Senator said Gaston County should be the next leader for lithium, but he wants it done responsibly.
"We're sitting on top of the largest single deposit of hydrate lithium in North America," Tillis said. “We have to lead by example, and if we do we will accelerate our self-dependence.”
The company says the move represents an important next step in the company's plans to invest in the region as it works to create hundreds of jobs and billions in economic impact through the proposed Carolina Lithium project.
“That project will employ over 400 people directly, and bring over a thousand jobs to the area and be an economic boost to the county," a representative with Piedmont Lithium said.
The company hopes the lithium they extract will power electric vehicles and cell phones. The company still waits for state regulators to review its proposal for a flagship operation in Gaston County.
Still, some businesses are skeptical.
“Is it right for our community?," James Gabehart, manager of Nellie's Southern Kitchen, said. "It’s very tight knit around here.”
Many residents fear the mine will contaminate their water supply, pollute surrounding land, and damage their home's value. Gabehart says he thinks it's important for Piedmont Lithium to have open conversations with residents in the area.
“Outreach to everyone, businesses, let them know what you’re doing here, what we can expect from you, don’t leave people hanging," Gabehart said.
During the press conference, Tillis said he wanted to address peoples concerns, but he really thinks this project will put Gaston County on the map.
Piedmont Lithium hopes to have the permitting process finished by 2023.