Piedmont Lithium Makes Case for Gaston Co. Mine; Protesters Oppose Plan

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. – A battle is brewing over a proposed lithium mine in Gaston County, east of Cherryville.

Piedmont Lithium has a deal to sell the material to Tesla for electric car batteries, but neighbors are raising concerns.

The company went before Gaston County Commissioners to make their case on Tuesday night.

They’ll eventually need their approval to rezone land for the mine.

Protesters gathered outside the meeting.

“I think it’s a waste to our town, I do not want the destruction, I do not want the waste,” says Cherryville resident Joanna Franklin.

She and others are asking commissioners to reject the proposed mine.

“We do not need it. We do not want it. And we don’t want no part of it,” Franklin says.

Commissioners aren’t making any decisions yet.

Tuesday night, the company made their first pitch to the board promising an $840 million capital investment and 500 jobs.

“There’s a ripple effect for the community. It’s going to attract other businesses,” explains Piedmont Lithium spokesperson Brian Risinger.

He says he believes neighbors and the mine can co-exist.

Piedmont plans an integrated facility, meaning it will process and convert the product on site.

“It just makes it a really efficient operation. And it makes it very environmentally conscious,” Risinger says.

But neighbors remain wary.

“We feel that Piedmont Lithium is a land acquisition company, run by investment bankers,” says Gaston Co. resident Lisa Carpenter Baldwin.

She lives across the street from the proposed mine.

“The profits from the mine are not going to make up for the loss of economic value, not just of the land but industries do not want to be around the mine. People don’t want to live near a mine,” Baldwin says.