Nouveau Monde Graphite outlines its all-electric open pit plan to IM

Nouveau Monde Graphite informed the market recently that it intends on completing by the end of 2018 its feasibility study leading to the implementation of the first ever all-electric open-pit mine. “The results of this study will serve to confirm the project’s economic viability and to determine how best to exploit the graphite deposit of Saint-Michel-des-Saints in a carbon-neutral way to meet the NMG’s sustainable ambitions.”

Prior to launching this all-electric project feasibility study, last autumn 2017, NMG brought together an international team of experts: “The Task Force Committee” (TFC), recognised worldwide for their knowledge and expertise: ABB Inc, Doppelmayr Canada, Met-ChemCanada Inc/DRA, Medatech Engineering Services Ltd and SNC-Lavalin Inc. “Members of the TFC work together closely and intensely. This has led us to upgrade the initial project as presented in the pre-feasibility study, by integrating existing electrification technology solutions. In doing so, NMG will obtain an all-electric effective mining plan without jeopardising the forecasted profitable exploitation,” explains NMG Chief of Operations, Karl Trudeau. Upon completion, the TFC as well as NMG’s in-house team have come to the conclusion that an all-electric project offers equivalent global economic viability while proposing a significant improvement on social and environmental levels.

Trudeau told IM: “The haul trucks are to be equipped with batteries. Tracked mobile equipment – shovels, tracked dozers, drills – are forecasted to be powered by electric rope to be more efficient in power consumption.  The remainder of the fleet will also be equipped with batteries. Trolley lines are not planned to be used on this mine as of today. A mobile charging station that includes fast-charging capability of up to 600 kW is planned to be positioned in the pit to charge the trucks & other equipment, and a similar one elsewhere on surface to service tailings/waste management. Due to the costs of battery technology as they are today, the philosophy is to minimise the battery size to last a typical load-dump cycle, rather than an extended period such as an entire shift. Fast-charging technology available today will be used to recharge the truck batteries at a convenient time, such as while dumping at the crusher, to sustain productivity.”

“The feasibility phase that we are embarking in is the next logic step of NMG’s development plan. By going forward with the all-electric concept, we intend on demonstrating that NMG can grow by choosing eco-energetic solutions, already put at use by major international suppliers, while respecting deadlines and budgets. Electricity is a clean energy source. It is abundant and easily accessible on our depositlocated one the Matawinie property. This prompts us to consider the viability of a carbon-neutral project that meets our profitability goals,” adds Éric Desaulniers, President and CEO of NMG.

In December 2017, NMG published a pre-feasibility study forecasting a yearly production capacity of 52,000 tonnes of concentrate for a 27-year-pit exploitation. The feasibility study has commenced and has been entrusted to Met-Chem/DRA. The Montreal engineering firm will lead the study and the integration in conformity with NI43-101.  SNC-Lavalin Inc., ABB Inc. and SGS Canada Inc. will also be beseeched for this feasibility study.

The scope of the mandate includes the following tasks:

  • Review mining resources including drilling targeting the West zone of the Tony claims block
  • Review the mining plan and schedule. The feasibility study will develop a mining plan based on an open-pit exploitation
  • Metalworking revision
  • CAPEX and OPEX updates
  • Financial analysis and sensibility analysis updates, including a treasury flow (prior and post income taxes)
  • Preparation of a technical report

The feasibility study will be completed by the end of 2018. Certain seasonal issues of the feasibility study such as geo-technic drilling and specific sites’ condemnation drilling have already been conducted. “Health and security issues as well as environmental protection will be included in the conception criteria of our infrastructure and operations. The industry’s leading technological solutions and engineering concepts will be put to use and the mining site’s and demonstration facility’s footprint will be reduced to its minimum. Two innovative concepts will also be introduced to our feasibility study: the co-disposition of mining residues and an all-electric exploitation.”

A social and environmental impact assessment study (S&EA) has also begun. “This study is conducted as part of the meridional Quebec environmental impact evaluation and examination procedure of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contreleschangementsclimatiques (MDDELCC). In February 2018, NMG has received the directive of the Minister to complete this study. The study scope includes the description of the environment base-line (or the initial environment prior to the project realisation), the description of the project and of its components, based on the feasibility study, the impact analysis, the identification of attenuation measures or compensations, the preparation of an emergency plan as well as surveillance and monitoring programs. The completion of this study has been confided to SNC-Lavalin. It will be conducted in full consideration of all authorities responsible and in respect of the principles of sustainable development. Its realisation includes many consultations activities with the hosting communities.”

ABB Inc will work on electrification and digitalisation solutions for new NMG mine. Doppelmayr Canada will supply NMG with ore handling solutions (RailCon® technology). This technology will be combined with a pit crusher; this mixed avenue will minimize ore transport from the pit to the ground surface. DRA-Metchem Canada Inc was initially in charge of NMG’s pre-feasibility study, and the engineering firm will supply all the mandatory mining plan and mine operations recommendations. DRA/Met-Chem will also lead NMG’s feasibility study. Medatech Engineering Services has already been successful in converting many industrial equipment used in underground mines and pits and for civil engineering needs to all-electric full-functioning machinery. SNC-Lavalin will conduct studies and establish a detailed design of mining residue co-disposition. The firm will also look over the completion of our social and environmental and social impact assessment study.

Geologist and mining exploration expert Éric Desaulniers founded Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) in 2012. In 2015, thanks to the innovative use of 3D geodesic modelling technology, NMG discovered two major and high-quality graphite deposits on its Matawinie property, located in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, 150 km north of Montreal, Quebec. NMG then stepped out of its exploration phase to enter an era of development, having secured financial support with prominent venture capitalists and bankers.

On October 25, 2017, NMG revealed the results of its pre-feasibility study, independently conducted in accordance to the Regulation 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects. The study proved the high graphite content and quality and showed the industrial exploitation potential of the deposit located in the West Zone of its property. Having secured C$13.7 million, during the Summer of 2018, NMG plans on operating a demonstration facility with a capacity to hold up to 1,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate flakes a year. The two-year project’s goal is to produce and characterise various forms of graphite to meet the needs expressed by potential industrial clients. “All the while, NMG will finalise investments and start working on the development of an open-pit mine and the creation of a treatment facility capable of producing 52,000 t of concentrate a year. Both the mining operation and the plant will be fully electric.”