Tag Archives: Arne H Frandsen

Nouveau Monde files US patent for thermochemical purification anode tech

Nouveau Monde Graphite has submitted a patent application for its proprietary thermochemical purification technology to the US Patent and Trademark Office that could see it gain intellectual property over a “greener” and more sustainable alternative process to that currently used in the traditional anode material production.

Leveraging Québec’s abundant, clean and affordable hydropower, the company’s technology avoids using hydrofluoric acid in favour of high temperatures and the addition of chlor-based reagent, it says.

Tests in labs and at third-party facilities have already demonstrated the technology’s performance and the products’ high purity, reaching 99.95% and over, according to the company.

Its Phase 1 purification facilities are in the final stages of commissioning, prior to starting production, process optimisation and material qualification with potential customers. At the same time, Nouveau Monde is carrying out its definitive feasibility study for the Phase 2 plant in Bécancour, Quebec, Canada.

The company’s 200,000 sq.m industrial site, adjacent to the Phase 1 location, is intended to consolidate manufacturing facilities for the production of 42,000 t/y of lithium-ion battery anode material and 3,000 t/y of purified flakes for specialty applications. The plant will process material from the Matawinie mine.

In addition to energy applications, Nouveau Monde’s thermochemical process has shown to be effective at purifying larger particle sizes that are expected to allow the company to supply high-purity, carbon-neutral graphite flakes for bipolar plates used in fuel cells, foils for heat dissipation in electronics, expandable graphite for fire retardant applications and other specialty products, it said.

Arne H Frandsen, Chairman of Nouveau Monde, said: “Research and development is a critical component of our business model. The filing of this important patent application is a tangible manifestation of our commitment to sustainable development and the success Nouveau Monde has already achieved from its Center of Excellence in Québec.”

Eric Desaulniers, Founder, President and CEO of Nouveau Monde, added: “I believe there is much appetite in the marketplace for alternatives to China’s dominant chemical-heavy processes. We have developed a technology that takes full advantage of Québec’s green hydroelectric asset and operates in a closed loop with our chemical supplier to minimise the environmental footprint of our purified products. This patent application reiterates our engagement towards R&D, innovation, and environmental stewardship to drive greater sustainability into the battery value chain.”

Cat to use NMG’s Matawinie graphite mine as ‘zero-emission machine’ testbed

Nouveau Monde Graphite and Caterpillar have signed an agreement pursuant to which Caterpillar will develop, test and produce Cat® “zero-emission machines” for the Matawinie graphite mine, in Quebec, Canada, with a view to becoming the exclusive supplier of an all-electric mining fleet for deployment at the mine by 2028.

Looking to accelerate and tailor the equipment development, Caterpillar will engage with Nouveau Monde’s team to incorporate “voice of customer” throughout the development, and for testing of the zero-emission fleet and infrastructure prior to commercial production, the companies said.

To this point, Caterpillar has only disclosed the development of a battery-electric 15 t LHD, the R1700 XE, however it came to light just over a year ago that the OEM was working on a separate project called ‘Project Verde’.

Brian Weller, Chief Engineer, Surface Mining & Technology, Caterpillar Inc, previously stated on Project Verde: “Caterpillar has responded to customers by launching a project that is focused on energy and emissions reduction, and helping customers decrease their carbon footprints through machinery and power solutions that contribute to lower greenhouse gas.”

Speaking about the latest agreement between NMG and Cat, Arne H Frandsen, Chairman of Nouveau Monde, commented: “I recall our first meeting with Caterpillar some two years ago, outlining our vision of a zero-emission mine in Québec. Our commitment to this vision has taken us to this very important moment, not only for Nouveau Monde, but for the global mining industry as a whole. Today, alongside Caterpillar, which in my opinion is the most trusted and reputable supplier of heavy-mining equipment worldwide, we can bring the zero-emission machines vision into reality.

“I think it is remarkable that Nouveau Monde, as a representative for the new style green resources industry, is part of spearheading the electrification of the industry, by collaborating with Caterpillar.”

Eric Desaulniers, Founder, President and CEO of Nouveau Monde, added: “We are proud to be a driving force for our peers as we strive to electrify our operations to meet our carbon neutrality commitments while maintaining the productivity and efficiency standards of our mining operations. Even more gratifying and important to our corporate mission is that our project can serve as a springboard for the future of the mining industry by collaborating with Caterpillar on these cutting-edge technologies.”

Denise Johnson, Caterpillar Group President, said: “The collaboration between Caterpillar and Nouveau Monde marks an important milestone in the mining industry. Through integrated technology, machines and services, the entire Caterpillar team is proud to support Nouveau Monde as they work towards constructing and establishing their first zero-emission mine.”

In November last year, NMG issued an “international call for pre-qualification” related to the fleet and charging infrastructure at Matawinie following work by the company’s International Task Force Committee. This work had allowed Nouveau Monde to explore “technologies, best practices and operational parameters to bring its vision to life in a cost-effective and technologically advanced way”.

As part of this pre-qualification program, companies were able to submit detailed proposals and performance specifications from their production equipment solutions between November 30 and January 30, 2021.

In the 2018 definitive feasibility study on Matawinie, Medatech Engineering Services Ltd and ABB Inc – both companies in Nouveau Monde’s taskforce committee – came up with the fleet outline at Matawinie.

“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,” the report read.

The mine, scheduled to produce 100,000 t/y of graphite concentrate, was also expected to use an electric in-pit mobile crusher and overland conveyor system to feed crushed material to the plant.

Nouveau Monde receives provincial green light for Matawinie graphite mine build

Following a rigorous environmental review, the Québec Government has issued a ministerial decree authorising Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc’s Matawinie mining project for a 100,000 t/y high-purity graphite concentrate production.

Located only 150 km north of Montréal, the company’s deposit constitutes the largest projected graphite operation in North America and Europe and is expected to become the world’s first all-electric open-pit mine, Nouveau Monde says.

“Since filing its bankable feasibility study, Nouveau Monde has invested time and effort to meticulously plan mining and environmental engineering, master the ore metallurgical process to reach 97% purity after simple flotation, de-risk its operation through its demonstration plant, and actively engage with the local community of St-Michel-des-Saints to secure a social licence to operate and with the Atikamekw First Nation,” the company said.

The environmental decree now provides Nouveau Monde with the operational criteria and final design parameters to launch construction activities.

It plans to start early works at the mining site as of the June quarter, and full construction is expected to be launched in the September quarter once permits and authorisations are finalised. The project timeline places commissioning activities and start-up of commercial production in 2023.

Arne H Frandsen, Chairman of Nouveau Monde, said: “Today’s milestone is something we have worked towards as a team since the outset in 2011. After a decade of meticulous planning, we can now commence the mine construction of our world-class Matawinie graphite project. We are most grateful for the continued support Nouveau Monde has received from the Québec Government and our partnership with Investissement Québec as well as the backing from our local host communities – all being important stakeholders of this success.

“We will exercise our mandate in the spirit of cooperation, sustainability and benefit sharing for all parties involved. The creation of the Western World’s largest anode-quality graphite mine will assist positioning Québec as the prime location for the North American battery materials hub – supplying the continent with the critical anode and cathode materials required for the batteries needed for the global electrification of mobility.”

Eric Desaulniers, President and CEO of Nouveau Monde, added: “With this green light to launch our Matawinie project, we plan to bring to market a responsibly extracted high-purity graphite to supply electric vehicles and energy storage sectors with a local and sustainable alternative. Doing so will position Nouveau Monde as a leading anode material provider for decades to come, creating opportunities and unlocking value for all parties involved.”

Nouveau Monde is working towards developing an operation that can provide the volumes required by major auto original equipment manufacturers and battery manufacturers; the most recent estimates indicate 120.3 Mt combined measured and indicated resources at a 4.26% Cg grade. Geological knowledge of the Matawinie property, paired with experience in extracting and concentrating the ore at the company’s demonstration plant, have significantly de-risked the project.

Nouveau Monde has also integrated forward looking and innovative environmental initiatives to limit the project’s footprint and protect local biodiversity, namely:

  • Integrated onsite water management system guaranteeing constant monitoring and treatment that meet the highest quality standards;
  • Co-disposal of tailings and waste rock in line with requirements of the best practices such as The Global Tailings Review, the International Network for Acid Prevention and the Canadian Mine Environment Neutral Drainage Program. This management solution helps avoid acid mine drainage, provides greater environmental safety in the long term and reduces the infrastructure’s footprint;
  • Progressive land reclamation through backfilling of the pit and a comprehensive restoration plan; and
  • An all-electric fleet – a world’s first for an open-pit mine – powered by Québec’s clean, abundant, and affordable hydroelectricity.

Through its demonstration operations, Nouveau Monde has already validated its process for desulphurisation of tailings and completed the construction of a co-disposal experimental cell through a collaborative partnership with Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Over the life of mine, the company intends to implement this system through a co-disposal pile and backfilling of the pit as of year six, promoting thereby the restoration of the natural ecosystem while reducing environmental risks. To ensure long-term sustainability, the co-disposal storage facility will also include a capillary barrier effect multi-layer cover to block oxygen and vegetate the site.

SNC-Lavalin, Lamont Expert, Minesite Drainage Assessment Group and the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada have conducted modelling analysis of Nouveau Monde’s co-disposal design to study critical design parameters on sulphide oxidation reaction rates and optimise configurations of the pit backfill and co-disposal pile.

Recently the company has expanded the mandate of NRC to simulate additional site-specific pile design parameters, like compaction level, using Nouveau Monde’s demonstration plant tailings and test cell results. NRC will expand the model developed in earlier phases and provide the company with a strong tool to optimise tailings deposition plans.

Sedibelo Platinum to expand PPM operations and leverage Kell Technology

Sedibelo Platinum Mines has announced plans to expand its Pilanesberg Platinum Mines (PPM) operation on South Africa’s Bushveld Complex, as well as construct a 110,000 t/y beneficiation plant at PPM employing Kell Technology.

The company plans to mine the three contiguous deposits of Sedibelo Central, Magazynskraal and Kruidfontein – known as the Triple Crown properties – as part of the expansion. These three come with an estimated resource base in excess of 60 Moz of 4PGE.

The predominantly shallow deposits will enable safe and sustainable mining activities for potentially more than 60 years, according to the company. The approved expansion will be funded through Sedibelo’s existing cash resources and future cash flow, with first ounces from Triple Crown expected to be extracted in 2023.

The Triple Crown expansion will be mined simultaneously with ore from the existing open-pit UG2 and Merensky operation, using two separate decline shaft systems, the company said.

The existing PPM concentrator plant has the capacity to be used to process the Triple Crown ore as well as ore from the open pits. With minimal reconfiguration, the Triple Crown UG2 and Merensky ore will be blended and processed through the existing Merensky plant, thereby reducing capital expenditure as well as lowering operating cost significantly, it said.

Speaking of the 110,000 t beneficiation plant, Sedibelo said Kell Technology reduces energy consumption by some 82% with the associated significant reduction in carbon emissions, also improving recoveries and lowering operating costs.

“Benefitting from being robust in operation, Kell is unconstrained by concentrate grade, is insensitive to chrome levels as well as being resistant to other impurities,” it explained. “Hence, using Kell will improve the economic return of the Triple Crown expansion and is an integral part of Sedibelo’s future development.”

As applied to treatment of PGM concentrates, the Kell Process comprises four main unit operations (pressure oxidation, atmospheric leach, heat treatment and chlorination), all of which are conventional and in commercial use in the minerals and metals industry.

Sedibelo shares an interest in Kell South Africa with the Industrial Development Corp and Founder Keith Liddell, through Lifezone.

Arne H Frandsen, Chairman of Sedibelo, said: “Today is a significant day in Sedibelo’s history. We are opening our next door 60 Moz Triple Crown deposit, thereby securing the future of Sedibelo for many decades to come. The construction of our Kell plant will allow us to produce metal and lower our cost profile further. Equally important, it will reduce our carbon footprint and water usage significantly.

“We trust our environmentally friendly platinum group metals will become an important part of future electrification and the ‘green revolution’ used in fuel-cells around the world.”

Keith Liddell, Founder of Kell and CEO of Lifezone, said: “I developed Kell Technology as a cost-efficient alternative to the conventional smelting of PGMs. We are excited to now proceed with the construction of the Kell plant at PPM. The benefit for Sedibelo and the industry will be significant; delivering beneficiation, energy and cost advantages as well as a reduction in CO2 and SO2 emissions.”