Quebec, Canada-based Nouveau Monde Graphite’s latest economic study on the West Zone deposit of the Tony Claim Block, part of its Matawinie graphite property, in Saint-Michel-Des-Saints, has shown an all-electric open-pit mine can be built that delivers ample shareholder returns and the reduced carbon footprint the company was after.
The feasibility study builds on a prefeasibility study that envisaged a 52,000 t/y graphite concentrate operation being built for C$179 million ($137 million) for a post-tax internal rate of return of 25.9%.
The latest study has upped the production ante – looking at a 100,000 t/y concentrate operation over 25.5 years – as well as the potential shareholder returns. The feasibility study estimates the mine can be built for C$276 million, can operate at a cash operating cost of C$499/t and bring in a 32.2% after-tax IRR based on a life-of-mine average sales price of $1,730/t.
These results have proven so favourable the company is already set on completing the project’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, in addition to starting the engineering, procurement, construction and management phase. This could see the mill constructed in 2020 and production starting in 2022.
Met-Chem, a division of DRA Americas, prepared this latest study, which has fleshed out some of the company’s plans for an all-electric open-pit mine.
“The mine will be using an all-electric, zero-emission mine fleet, consisting of electric battery-driven 36.3-t mining trucks, battery-driven front-end loaders, cable reel excavators and bulldozers, and battery-driven service vehicles,” Nouveau Monde said.
The mine will also use an electric in-pit mobile crusher and overland conveyor system to feed crushed material to the plant, according to the company.
Medatech Engineering Services Ltd and ABB Inc were responsible for developing the technology used in this fleet. The two companies, part of Nouveau Monde’s Task Force Committee for the project, assisted Met-Chem in preparing a fully-electric equipment fleet estimate. This information was then passed onto a mining contractor to establish a technical and commercial proposal for the mine operation on a contractual basis as well as on the basis of a fully-electric equipment fleet, Nouveau Monde said.
Nouveau Monde’s COO, Karl Trudeau previously told IM that Doppelmayr Canada would supply the company with ore handling solutions (RailCon® technology), while a mobile charging station, including fast-charging capability of up to 600 kW, was to be positioned in the pit to charge the trucks and other equipment.
In addition to the eco-friendly nature of the mining fleet, the company has also looked to reduce the footprint of the mine’s infrastructure.
The processing plant and the co-disposal of tailings and waste rock will be located less than 500 m from the mine to minimise truck cycle times and lower the project’s operating costs, while progressive backfilling of waste rock and tailings will take place to “further minimise the project’s environmental footprint”, while allowing site rehabilitation during the operating life of the mine. The mine waste rock and tailings management plan, as well as the water management infrastructure, was designed by SNC-Lavalin.
The flowsheet for the 2.35 Mt/y mine consists of in-pit crushing, followed by multiple steps of grinding and flotation separation circuits. The graphite concentrate is then filtered, dried and classified to recover over 94% of the graphite and produce four products with various flake sizes, all with finished product purity above 97%.
Eric Desaulniers, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nouveau Monde, said: “We have designed a state-of-the-art mine that not only maximises efficiency but also aims to be one of the most eco-friendly mines in the world, having a very low carbon footprint relative to our peers. This is a key product differentiator, especially for our electric vehicle manufacturing customers whose environmental and social acceptability values align perfectly with our own.”
Karl Trudeau, Chief Operating Officer, Nouveau Monde Graphite; Michel Serres, VP Mining Solutions North America, ABB Canada and David Lyon, Business Development Manager, MEDATECH will be presenting ‘The NMG journey to the all-electric open-pit mine: innovation from collaboration’ at The Electric Mine conference in Toronto, Canada, on April 4-5, 2019. For more information about the event, please click here.