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Gaston County Commissioners still considering lithium mine



CHERRYVILLE Local Charlotte News — Piedmont Lithium is still working on building a mining plant in rural Gaston County that would sprawl across thousands of acres. But before they get the green light, they have to jump through some hoops.

The first hurdle Piedmont Lithium is facing is the current zoning laws in the area they want to build the campus. The Gaston County Board of Commissioners has the power to change them but so far hasn’t budged.

“Step one is what they call an i-3 permit, which would be industrial zoning of our property. If that is approved, the next step is applying for a special use permit. If that is then approved, we can we begin operation,” Brian Risinger, of Piedmont Lithium, said.

The mining campus would sit east of Cherryville. Some of the residents out there planted their roots decades ago, and don’t want to see it change.

“They’ve been here for generations, and most of their family lived along this area and she’s like really upset about it,” said Felicia, a resident near the proposed mining campus.

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Commissioners took the community’s concerns seriously and passed a series of new regulations on mining. Now any company that wants to mine in Gaston County has to follow the rules surrounding hours of operation, fencing of a specific height, and noise mitigation.

“We were already taking steps that would exceed whatever minimums, whether it was the federal or the state had in place for any kind of mitigation programs, you know, environmental protections, that sort of thing. So we were already kind of going above and beyond in that respect,” Risinger said.

Commissioners have said they will not allow the zoning changes to happen until Piedmont Lithium gets a permit from the State of North Carolina.

“We submitted a 1200 page permit application. Lots of experts from a lot of different areas contributed to the permit application. And we’re, optimistic,” Risinger said.

On November 15, state officials are holding a public hearing at the Gaston County Courthouse from 6:30 to 9:30. This will give residents the chance to voice their opinions on the potential mining site in Gaston County.

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