Tag Archives: graphite

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.

Syrah to integrate solar, battery power solution at Balama graphite mine

Syrah Resources has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Solar Century Africa Ltd to progress a solar and battery storage hybrid power system to work in conjunction with the existing diesel generation power plant at its Balama graphite mine in Mozambique.

The solar and battery storage system aims to reduce CO2 emissions and operating costs at the operation.

Solar Century and Syrah have undertaken technical design and pricing analysis through 2020 for several solar and battery options at Balama, from which Syrah has chosen its preferred solution of 11.2 MW solar with an 8.5 MW battery, subject to final design. The solar and battery installation will work in conjunction with the existing 15 MW diesel generation power plant at Balama, which the company said was chosen as a low-risk power generation option for the initial establishment of operations at Balama.

Syrah Managing Director and CEO, Shaun Verner, said: “Progression of a large-scale solar and battery installation will reduce the operating cost base at Balama and further strengthen the ESG credentials of Balama’s natural graphite supply and the future supply from our vertically integrated battery anode material project in Vidalia, USA.”

The MoU establishes the terms and conditions under which Syrah and Solar Century will continue with the development of the design, funding, construction and operation of a solar and battery installation under a build, own, operate and transfer arrangement.

ABB to help deliver Talga’s vertically integrated lithium-ion battery anode plan

Talga Group says it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ABB to support the development and construction of its Vittangi Anode project, in northern Sweden.

Talga is constructing a scalable battery anode production facility and integrated graphite mining operation in northern Sweden, using 100% renewable electricity to supply ultra-low emission coated anode for, it says, greener lithium-ion batteries. The anode refinery is expected to commence production in 2023.

Under the MoU, ABB will use its industrial automation and electrification expertise to develop and co-ordinate an extensive suite of production control and process solutions for Talga’s vertically integrated lithium-ion battery anode operations.

In addition, ABB will work together with Talga and its partners to provide engineering support for the Vittangi Anode project definitive feasibility study, due for completion March 2021, with the intent to execute binding agreements for construction and operations in future.

Talga, Mitsui and LKAB recently signed a Letter of Intent that could see the three jointly develop the project.

Talga Managing Director, Mark Thompson, said: “ABB is at the forefront of industrial automation and electrification, and we are very pleased to have their support as we continue to execute on our plan to build Europe’s largest Li-ion battery anode production facility for more sustainable batteries.”

Björn Jonsson, Hub Division Manager North Europe, Process Industries, ABB, said: “Supporting the development of Talga’s Vittangi Anode project provides us with an additional opportunity to showcase ABB’s leadership in industrial automation and smart electrification, applied towards construction of key operations for the emerging European battery supply chain.

“This is another milestone for us and our customers in our aim for more sustainable operations and a fossil fuel free society.”

Nouveau Monde Graphite casts net out for carbon-neutral, zero-emission fleet

Nouveau Monde is putting out a call to arms across the technology space for its Matawinie graphite project, in Quebec, Canada.

The company, which has been pushing forward development of an all-electric open-pit mine in the province, has issued an “international call for pre-qualification” related to the fleet and charging infrastructure at the project.

Since October 2018 when the company issued a definitive feasibility study (DFS) on the West Zone of the Matawinie deposit, the mining industry and the technology space that serves it have undergone huge change.

Hydrogen is no longer a pipe dream, with hybrid vehicle development already set in motion across the globe; while the types of electric solutions being offered by OEMs has evolved with new types of trolley and cable-electric solutions, plus more powerful and reliable battery technologies.

This has led to some of the assumptions made around 25 months ago being re-evaluated.

The call for pre-qualification follows work by the company’s International Task Force Committee, which has 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”.

The company added: “Discussions with manufacturers have already enabled to identify existing machinery in development and/or available, notably the ancillary fleet where purchasing agreements are being finalised.”

David Lyon, Director Electrification and Automation at the company, provided a bit more background to the announcement.

“We’re not actually that far out from production at Matawinie; come January, we’ll be around two years away from producing at the site,” he told IM. “Over that time, we’ve done a lot of due diligence and homework, including the pilot graphite anode project.

“We now have a pretty good roadmap towards electrifying the mine, but our view has changed a little bit. We’re not just saying it is going to be electrified anymore; we’re saying it will be carbon neutral and produce zero tail pipe emissions.”

Lyon added: “We’re afraid we haven’t turned over every rock in the technology sphere and we want companies – not just the ones we have already got in contact with – to come to us with ideas.”

That change in tone has been aided by Air Liquide’s plans to build a hydrogen electrolyser in Bécancour, very close to the company’s planned anode plant. This could produce 3,000 t/y of hydrogen from renewable energy sources.

“Having a green supply of hydrogen just down the road, and less than 200 km from the mine site, is opening up the opportunity for fuel cells, as well,” Lyon said.

While hydrogen power could provide an environmentally friendly power supply for stationary plant, there is also the potential for it serving the loading and haulage side of the mine, as indicated in today’s announcement: “Whether powered by lithium-ion batteries, plug-in systems or hydrogen fuel cells, Nouveau Monde is seeking the best zero-emission equipment for heavy-duty operations and harsh conditions associated with open-pit mining.”

Lyon added to this: “The call is for our entire mining fleet – any piece of the puzzle – to open it up to manufacturers that maybe we have missed along the way. There is a lot of good technology being developed across the globe and it would be a shame to go into full procurement mode without at least allowing those companies to participate in the process.”

Large OEMs and innovative SMEs, alike, will be able to submit detailed proposals and performance specifications from their production equipment solutions between November 30 and January 30, 2021, the company said.

In the 2018 DFS, 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.

Recently, the company has made headway on filling some of these requirements.

It signed a deal with Adria Power Systems, Dana TM4 and Fournier et fils – through the Innovative Vehicle Institute (IVI), Propulsion Québec and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) – that would see a new electric propulsion system developed with a rapid recharging infrastructure adapted to heavy vehicles in the open-pit mining industry.

This would also see mining contractor Fournier et Fils provide the project with a battery-powered Western Star 6900XD truck with a 36 t loading capacity that is expected to make its first real-world test runs as early as spring 2022 at a Fournier et Fils quarry, and at the Nouveau Monde Graphite site.

Such developments are representative of the government support Nouveau Monde has received – both at a federal and provincial level – and the company is hoping this assistance encourages more companies to submit zero-emission options.

“Quebec, Canada, features renowned environmental standards, innovative talents, business-forward policies and virtually unlimited hydropower, making it an ideal playground for OEMs to build and deploy their electric solutions,” it said.

Still, NMG will not be able to fill all its haulage gaps through innovative prototype development.

Lyon said: “A commercially-supported solution over the 26-year mine life is really what we want. They exist, and we just need to properly quantify all those other solutions and put them in the queue for an open procurement call.”

And, according to Lyon, there is some flexibility to the payloads and requirements outlined in that 2018 DFS document.

“While we have found solutions in those classes today…we are still a bit flexible and open to looking at the upper and lower bands in terms of equipment,” he said.

This can be seen in the full call for pre-qualification, which includes two 90 t excavators, one 50 t excavator, one 50 t wheel loader, 8-14 haul trucks with 50-65 t payloads, two drills, two 42 t dozers, two 22 t dozers, two 14M or 140 graders, two water trucks, and a range of operation and maintenance support machines. It adds up to a mining fleet including some 60 vehicles.

Flexibility on behalf of the vendors could also prove key in the company fulfilling its requirements.

“There isn’t today one supplier that is going to supply our whole fleet, and it is very important that these solutions work together,” Lyon said. “Maybe one of these suppliers has a comparable solution that matches well with other technology we are not aware of. That could make an impact on our planning.”

Lyon admits more than two years seems a long time to fill a fleet order, but he is cognisant that timeline is not as generous when considering much of it involves the use of new technology.

All this means there will be a transition to the carbon-neutral, zero-emission fleet after initial production starts up in 2023 at Matawinie. The company is putting this transition period at five years, hoping to have a fully-electric fleet by 2028.

Still, considering the 25.5-year life at Matawinie, most mining will be conducted in the mean and ‘green’ fashion Nouveau Monde’s stakeholders and wider industry are expecting.

“Nouveau Monde is proud to be acting as an enabler into the zero-emission heavy-duty operations and is welcoming any industrial operators in mining, quarry and/or construction sectors to reach out to its technical team with questions and interest,” the company concluded.

To find out more about the pre-qualification process, follow this link: www.nouveaumonde.group/qualification-electric-fleet

LKAB, Mitsui on board with Talga’s graphite anode journey in northern Sweden

Talga Resources, Mitsui and LKAB have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) that could see the three jointly develop the Vittangi Anode project, in northern Sweden.

The LoI is a non-binding agreement between the parties whereby, after completing the detailed feasibility study on the project, expected March 2021, and due diligence, LKAB, Talga and Mitsui intend to negotiate a business agreement including ownership and investments in the project.

Talga is the 100% owner of the Vittangi graphite project and proprietary technology for anode battery production. Permit applications for the graphite mine were filed in May 2020.

The ASX-listed company is intent on establishing a European supply of sustainable, low-CO2 emission anode materials for lithium-ion batteries, using its 100% owned Swedish mineral assets and battery material technologies.

Building on the company’s vertically integrated business strategy, the development plan includes construction of a scalable lithium-ion battery anode production facility and integrated graphite mining operations in northern Sweden, with initial production capacity of 19,000 t/y coated anode from an annual ore mining rate of 100,000 t.

LKAB said growth within the industrial minerals market is a strategic activity for the company to reduce its dependence on the iron ore market, which today accounts for around 90% of external sales.

“There is also a clear sustainability-based rationale, coupled with the growth ambition, to recycle and upgrade by-products and waste streams,” the miner said. “Additionally, the growth will be accelerated through selected acquisitions and investments that offer synergies with LKAB’s market, operations and sustainability ambitions.”

Talga, with its proximity to LKAB’s existing mining operations in northern Sweden, may offer synergies with resources, skills and infrastructure, according to LKAB. “There are also potential commercial synergies with sales and distribution, including the developments in the ReeMAP project that will produce both phosphorus and rare earth elements through recycling mine waste.”

Primero banks new work with Fortescue, Rio Tinto and Hazer Group

Primero Group says it has recently booked new business totalling some A$55 million ($39 million) with Fortescue Metals Group, Rio Tinto and the Hazer Group as it continues to build out its 2021 financial year contracted order book.

First, it has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Non-Process Infrastructure (NPI) at Fortescue’s Eliwana mine and rail project, in the Pilbara.

Works commenced in late July based on a limited notice to proceed, with the full contract now awarded to Primero following a successful Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) process. The contract includes the complete engineering design, procurement and construction of heavy vehicle workshops and washdown and refuelling infrastructure required for the new Eliwana mine, with works expected to be completed in the 2021 financial year.

Once completed, the $1.275 billion Eliwana project, which includes the building of a 30 Mt/y iron ore processing facility, will maintain Fortescue’s overall production rate of a minimum 170 Mt/y over 20 years.

With Rio Tinto, Primero has been awarded two multi-year Master Service Agreements for NPI and Structural, Mechanical, Piping services across the miner’s Pilbara operational and project locations. The two contracts have an initial term of three years, with an option for a two-year extension. They cover sustaining capital and maintenance projects required over that period across all Rio Tinto Iron Ore Pilbara sites, it said.

The services cover design, procurement and construction activities for engagement under negotiated commercial terms in a “panel style agreement”, according to Primero.

Primero has also been awarded an EPC contract for Hazer Group’s hydrogen/graphene commercial demonstration plant in Western Australia at the Woodman Point Water Treatment Facility.

Hazer is undertaking the commercialisation of the Hazer Process, a low-emission hydrogen and graphite production process. This process enables the effective conversion of natural gas and similar methane feedstocks, into hydrogen and high-quality graphite, using iron ore as a process catalyst, according to the company.

“The full project award has followed a successful ECI process that has extended over the past 12 months,” Primero said. “This process was targeted at developing the technology engineering to the point where a commercial contract could be executed to deliver the project. The project is the first of its kind in the new global renewables energy market and is patented groundbreaking technology in the hydrogen space.”

Alongside this, Primero said it had been awarded the detailed design contract for a 130 km water delivery pipeline and associated pumping stations for the Covalent Lithium Mt Holland project feasibility study in Western Australia.

Primero said its committed order book for the 2021 financial year now stands at around A$285 million.

DRA Global wins Lola graphite project EPCM contract

SRG Mining has selected DRA Global as the provider of engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services for its Lola graphite project in Guinea.

This selection is the result of a competitive tender process where several international engineering firms were invited and responded with qualifying and attractive proposals, SRG Mining said.

Over the past three years, DRA has assisted SRG with the evaluation of the Lola graphite project, having been involved from the preliminary economic assessment (PEA) stage to the most recent feasibility study. This latter study outlined a project costing $88.5 million to build and producing 54,600 t of graphite flakes over a 29-year mine life.

DRA and its subsidiaries such as SENET have a long and successful history of delivering resources projects in Africa, most recently being involved in the construction of Alufer’s Bel Air bauxite project and Managem’s Tri-K gold project, both in Guinea, SRG Mining said.

“This historic knowledge and experience, combined with expertise of the latest processing technology, enable DRA to successfully design and execute mining and minerals processing projects, particularly in West Africa,” the company added.

The engineering phase of the project will be carried out through the DRA offices in Montreal and Toronto and the site-based execution will be led by DRA’s subsidiary SENET.

Ugo Landry-Tolszczuk, President and Chief Operating Officer of SRG, said: “Our tender process cemented our belief that DRA is the best partner for SRG to successfully complete the design and construct our Lola graphite project.”

Andrew Naude, CEO of DRA Global, said: “Awarding the execution of this internationally important graphite project on the African Continent to DRA is testament to DRA’s position as the preferred technical partner for projects of this nature. It reinforces DRA’s position as the preferred partner for the delivering of projects on the Continent.

“DRA has put together a very strong team for the EPCM of the project all of whom carry industry leading experience in delivering successfully on projects, in Africa.”

Black Rock Mining recruits China Railway Seventh for Mahenge graphite build

Black Rock Mining says it has signed an agreement with China Railway Seventh Group Co Ltd (CRSG) that could see the major Chinese infrastructure contractor help build the Mahenge graphite project in Tanzania.

The project is envisaged as a graphite development that would gradually ramp up to its ultimate 340,000 t/y capacity through the addition of four production modules. In order to reach the start-up module one rate of 85,000 t/y, the company forecasted an initial capital requirement of $116 million. First production is targeted in 2020 or 2021 depending on financing.

This is not Black Rock’s first Chinese agreement for Mahenge. In September 2018, it signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Yantai Jinyuan Mining Machinery Ltd, part of the larger Yantai Jinyuan Group, that committed both parties to work together with a view to Yantai supplying process plant machinery and related infrastructure for Mahenge.

Black Rock says CRSG is part of a large contractor group with significant operations and experience in Africa. CRSG’s parent company, China Railway Group, is a state-owned enterprise and among the largest construction businesses globally.

The non-binding cooperation framework agreement (CFA) outlines the key terms under which Black Rock and CSRG plan to progress to execution of a binding engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the module one process plant and non-process infrastructure at Mahenge. It provides for a coordinated EPC approach between CRSG and Yantai, Black Rock’s existing strategic build partner.

It also provides for the development of a conventional EPC arrangement containing customary performance warranties and typical risk allocation structures (guarantees, bonding) required by project financiers, Black Rock said.

Key agreed terms include a staged approach to the development of a final EPC contact price and a deferred, performance-based payment structure. This deferred payment structure results in over 30% of the total EPC contract value being payable only after completion of final plant performance tests to requisite levels, it said.

Black Rock Managing Director and CEO, John de Vries, said: “This framework agreement is a big step forward for Black Rock and our Mahenge graphite project. To have Black Rock aligned with a project execution partner as large, established, Africa-proven and financially robust as China Railway Seventh is materially significant. Our discussions have been highly collaborative to this point, as reflected directly in the specific framework agreement terms.

“In short, the agreement delivers us greater certainty on our project execution. It has been deliberately structured to deliver a final EPC contract that maximises both partner alignment and appeal to potential project financiers.”

According to de Vries, CRSG and Yantai have also agreed to provide assistance in relation to Mahenge project financing, including any related financing based on Chinese content.

He concluded: “We now look forward to advancing rapidly with CRSG and Yantai towards a final EPC contract for development of the world-class Mahenge graphite project.”

Black Rock and CRSG/Yantai are now targeting the execution of a binding term sheet by March 31, 2020.

EcoGraf and GR Engineering sign LOI for 20,000 t/y graphite facility

EcoGraf has signed a letter of intent with GR Engineering Services for an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the development of a 20,000 t/y battery-grade graphite facility in Western Australia.

The two companies expect to enter into a formal contract for the new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

EcoGraf said the parties have been working to complete pre-development activities for the project and the company is finalising its arrangements with the Western Australian Government’s land development agency over a proposed 6.7 ha site in Kwinana.

The proposed development has a pre-tax net present value of $141 million, generating an internal rate of return of 36.6% and annual EBITDA of $35 million based on an upfront capital cost of $22.8 million for an initial 5,000 t/y of graphite, followed by a further $49.2 million to expand production to 20,000 t/y of battery graphite, according to EcoGraf.

EcoGraf says the development of the project is subject to a final investment decision, expected in the first half of the year.

MCC to deliver graphite processing plant for Magnis’ Nachu project

Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) is to deliver a turnkey solution for a 240,000 t/y graphite production facility at Magnis Energy Technologies’ Nachu project, in Tanzania, following the signing of a binding engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract between the two companies.

The $277 million contract will also allow Magnis to access project funding support from the China Export Credit Agency, the ASX-listed company said, adding that initial meetings between all parties had indicated financing of no less than 80% in debt or delayed payments could be achieved in the first half of the year.

Nachu reserves, according to a 2016 study, total 76 Mt at 4.8% Cg for 3.6 Mt of contained graphite, with this tonnage providing sufficient material for an initial operating life of around 15 years.

This comprises close to 11.7 years at 240,000 t/y nameplate concentrate output after which lower-grade ore stockpiles are processed for another three-and-a-half years at an average concentrate output rate of 160,000 t/y.

Magnis said the contact provides a turnkey solution to produce high-purity graphite products and is inclusive of all items and inventory, including but not limited to the processing plant, infrastructure including roads, power, worker camps and storage facilities.

Vice President of MCC International, Wang Zhou, said: “The Nachu project is very unique and is one of the most impressive graphite projects I have seen to date. In particular, our team has been very impressed with the high purity products it can produce, minus any purification.”

Magnis Managing Director, Marc Vogts, meanwhile, called Nachu Tanzania’s most advanced graphite project.

“With the ability to produce 99.95% graphite products via mechanical processes only, Magnis is in a unique position to become a leader in the production of anode materials for the rapidly growing battery market,” he said.