Nouveau Monde Graphite says it has mandated Hydro-Québec to carry out a preliminary project encompassing the development, installation and operation of a 120 kV electrical line that will supply its Matawinie mine site and help the company meet its carbon-neutrality targets.
The goal is to connect the Matawinie project mine and concentrator, in Quebec, Canada, to the power network via a dedicated line that will enable the full electrification of its operations – a world first for an open-pit mine, according to NMG.
During the design phase, the technical, financial and environmental aspects, as well as the construction schedule, will be defined for the line. Hydro-Québec, Canada’s largest electricity producer and one of the world’s largest producers of hydroelectricity, will begin its studies and then issue public communications about the project in the coming months. The 120 kV line is expected to be powered up for the start of the mine’s operations in 2022, NMG said.
NMG said: “With its dedication to stringent sustainable development standards, Nouveau Monde is committed to having both its heavy equipment used for mining operations and its ore concentration and processing activities become fully electric within the first five years of production.”
The planned electrical line will supply power to support this operating model, which will reduce the CO2 emissions of the mine by more than 300,000 t over its lifetime, the company added.
Eric Desaulniers, President and CEO of Nouveau Monde, said: “The preliminary project is an important step in our electrification strategy, as the power line will guarantee a reliable, affordable and dedicated supply of renewable energy. This will give us a competitive advantage that lets us bring to market a product with the smallest possible environmental footprint.”
Desaulniers added that the company is having “positive discussions with commercial partners” to develop an electric fleet that is adapted to its property’s open-pit mining conditions.
The detailed engineering work is progressing in line with these goals.
“From mine planning to shift scheduling that takes into account recharge cycles, Nouveau Monde and its consultants are reinventing industry conventions to create the mine of the future,” it said.
NMG and Hydro-Québec have already partnered to research and develop graphite anode materials used to make lithium-ion batteries. The graphite developer also holds an operating licence from Hydro-Québec’s Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage to commercialise battery material technologies and position Quebec in the lithium-ion battery value chain.
Matawinie, in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Quebec, is expected to start up in 2022. A 2018 feasibility study revealed strong economics for the project, with projected high-quality graphite concentrate of 100,000 t/y over a 26-year period.