Tag Archives: Matawinie

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.

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

MEDATech speeds up battery-electric mining charge

The potential for electric drivetrain specialist MEDATech Engineering Services to add another high-profile client to its list of mining company references is high given the developments the Collingwood-based company is currently working on.

Having helped Goldcorp (now Newmont) and several OEMs realise their vision of an all-electric mine at Borden, in Ontario, MEDATech is energising more electrification projects with its ALTDRIVE system.

The company has been developing electrification technology for heavy-duty, off-highway vehicles for about six years. Its current drive train technology, MEDATech says, is capable of being scaled for most heavy haul applications in mining and other industries.

These last six years have seen it help fellow Collingwood resident MacLean Engineering convert underground roof bolters, graders, water trucks and many other production support vehicles for Canada’s underground mining sector. MEDATech has also helped Torex Gold and its Chairman, Fred Stanford, develop the necessary equipment to take the Muckahi all-electric underground mining concept to testing phase. Similarly, it has played a role in Nouveau Monde Graphite’s all-electric open-pit mine vision as part of a Task Force Committee developing studies for the Matawinie project, in Quebec.

Aside from the Muckahi project, the ALTDRIVE system, having been engineered to replace internal combustion engines, has been the driving force behind this work, according to Jeff Taylor, Managing Director of MEDATech Engineering.

The powertrain consist of a hybrid, or completely electric means of propelling the machine with industrial batteries, and can be adapted to heavy equipment such as commercial trucks, tractors, excavators, buses, haul trucks, light rail and – most important in this context – mining vehicles.

ALTDRIVE leverages battery systems from Akasol and XALT, chargers and power electronics from Bel Power Solutions and Dana TM4’s electric motors. The balance of the power electronics, control systems and sub systems, thermo management systems, VMU (a software component critical to the power management of the battery, electric motor charging and regenerative capabilities), and integration engineering is developed by MEDATech.

Taylor says it is the battery chemistry and charging philosophy of the ALTDRIVE technology that differentiates it from others on the market.

“The battery chemistry is really quite advanced and is all based on the future of fast charging,” he told IM. “In this scenario, we don’t want the batteries to be brought down to a high depth of discharge (DOD). We instead want operators to carry out quick, opportunity charging on the go.”

Most of the machines the company has been involved in manufacturing to date have been equipped with 25-100 kW on-board chargers, yet Taylor thinks its new breed of fast-charge battery-electric solutions could eventually require up to 1 MW of power and be charged through an automated system.

Such powerful charging systems may be the future of MEDATech’s ALTDRIVE drivetrain technology, but for now it is focused on leveraging the system for the conversion of a diesel-powered Western Star 4900 XD truck (pictured).

Part of a collaborative project with a Western Star dealer in Quebec where the dealer (Tardif) has donated the truck and MEDATech has provided its materials and engineering expertise, the truck is equipped with a 100 kW capacity on-board charger, 310 kWh of battery capacity, loaded gross vehicle weight of 40,824 kg and 25% more horsepower than its diesel-powered equivalent.

Loaded, the truck can cover 85 km (0% grade) on a single charge (80% DOD). This vehicle is ideal as a pit master unit for short run material moving, road maintenance, water hauling/spraying and snow plowing activities, according to the company. The truck can be on-board charged (2.5 hours) and fast charged (1 hour) during idle periods (at 80% DOD).

The machine will be ready for demonstrations at a gravel pit around 15 km away from the company’s Collingwood headquarters in September, and it has already caught the attention of some major miners.

According to Taylor, Anglo American (Chile), Teck Resources (British Columbia) and Vale (Ontario) are scheduled to see the BEV 4900 XD unit in September at the Collingwood facility. “Each company is looking at an electric machine(s) for their operations,” he said. “They might end up with a different truck, built to their exact specifications, but they want to test this machine out to experience a battery-electric conversion.”

After the 24 t payload truck, the company has eyes on converting a 40 t payload Western Star 6900 XD diesel truck to battery-electric mode.

“This will just be a bigger conversion on a bigger truck,” Taylor explained. “We’ll have extra room on the truck for placing batteries and the extra motor that will be required. It will also be an all-wheel drive vehicle, as opposed to the real-wheel drive of the 4900 XD, which will need some extra engineering.”

While Taylor said work on converting this 40 t machine would not start until the all-electric 4900 XD had been tested, he saw plenty of opportunities for scaling up and down the ALTDRIVE technology to create more customised ‘green’ vehicles for the mining industry.

“If you look at any mine site in Canada, there are five or 10 vehicles you could replace with electric versions,” he said.

Nouveau Monde Graphite advances Matawinie electrification strategy

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.

Nouveau Monde Graphite to add Tesla Cybertrucks to all-electric fleet at Matawinie

Nouveau Monde Graphite, which is attempting to develop the world’s first all-electric graphite mine at Matawinie in Quebec, Canada, says it has placed an order for five new Tesla Cybertrucks.

The announcement came in the same week Tesla’s Elon Musk unveiled the new all-electric vehicles at an event in the US.

In a post on LinkedIn, NMG said: “As we advance our mining development and business model targeting the lithium-ion batteries market, we felt these new Tesla Cybertrucks would be the perfect addition to our fleet.”

Likely to be used at Matawinie as a personnel carrier/utility vehicle, the Cybertruck is built with an exterior shell made for “ultimate durability and passenger protection”, according to Tesla. It has a “nearly impenetrable” exoskeleton, with Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel structural skin, in addition to Tesla armour glass. It also has an estimated plus-250 mile range, the company said.

It also has up to 3,500 Ib (1.6 t) of payload capacity and adjustable air suspension, 2.8 cu.m of exterior, lockable storage; a towing capability of over 14,000 Ib (6.4 t); adaptable suspension and self-levelling capabilities, Tesla says.

The truck can seat six “comfortably”, comes equipped with a 17 in touchscreen and all-new customised user interface, in addition to both on-board power and compressed air, according to the company.

Matawinie, meanwhile, is expected to start up in 2022. A 2018 feasibility study revealed strong economics for the project, with projected high-quality graphite concentrate production level of 100,000 t/y over a 26-year period.

SNC-Lavalin to lead on engineering, procurement for NMG’s graphite plant build

Nouveau Monde Graphite has awarded SNC-Lavalin, in partnership with Seneca and Boucher-Lachance Architects, the contract for detailed engineering and procurement services for the construction of its concentrator as part of its Matawinie graphite project, in Quebec, Canada.

Engineering work is already underway to complete priority activities by the end of the December quarter of 2019, including the process review, a Class 2 estimate, and a risk and opportunity assessment to optimise infrastructure design and generate savings, NMG said.

In 2015, Nouveau Monde discovered a graphite deposit on its Matawinie property, located in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, 150 km north of Montréal. It completed a feasibility study in 2018, which revealed strong economics with projected high-quality graphite concentrate production level of 100,000 t/y over a 26-year period.

Eric Desaulniers, President and CEO of Nouveau Monde, said: “With an impressive track record in concentrator design, procurement and project management in Quebec, the selected firms will facilitate the commissioning of commercial operations to supply the market with high-quality graphite.”

The entire project will be carried out in virtual design & construction (VDC), enabling integrated and dynamic modelling of the building information modelling (BIM) engineering for the concentrator, according to NMG.

“This innovative platform will facilitate the transfer from engineering to construction and then to operation,” the company added.

NMG’s master team, part of the management team and composed of senior specialists with several decades of experience each, will act as experts to validate the engineering, the procurement strategy and the technical specifications for the equipment, it said.

The engineering work will also take advantage of process optimisations identified at the Matawinie demonstration plant (pictured), which has been operational for one year. With a few hundred tonnes of graphite concentrate produced to date, the operation has demonstrated exceptional ore quality and a high-performance process to achieve a graphite purity of 97% on average and up to 99% for the largest flakes, according to NMG.

Nouveau Monde leverages this production, which is segregated into several granulometric categories ranging from flakes of more than 0.3 mm (+50 mesh) to the finest products of less than 0.1 mm (-150 mesh), to supply potential customers with samples so they can test the concentrate and confirm their commercial intentions. The demonstration plant will also be the preferred training platform for future Nouveau Monde employees to accelerate the start-up of operations thanks to process knowledge and hands-on experience with similar equipment.

Desaulniers concluded: “Nouveau Monde’s mining project has really taken off in recent months now that we have a solid foundation for our Matawinie graphite project. Our demonstration plant has validated the effectiveness of our treatment process, which is now being optimised by our team of experts in anticipation of the commercial plant. Next year promises more achievements as we complete the design of our operation, reserve key equipment and crystallise our customer base.”

Nouveau Monde produces the goods at graphite concentrate demo plant

Nouveau Monde Graphite’s latest concentrate results from its Matawinie graphite project in Quebec, Canada, have proven so favourable that it is upping production at its demonstration plant from next year.

The company completed mechanical commissioning of the 3.5 t/h plant, in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, earlier this year, laying out plans to, in the next two years, process a total of 40,000 t of material from the West Zone deposit at Matawinie.

This demo plant factors into the company’s bigger plan to build an all-electric open-pit mining operation at Matawinie able to produce 100,000 t/y of concentrate over 25.5 years.

In the most recent update, Nouveau Monde said, in the 43 non-consecutive hours the plant operated from November 29 to December 5, 140 t of ore from the West Zone deposit, with an average total carbon (Ct) content of 4.5%, was processed. This corresponds to a throughput of approximately 3.3 t/h, close to the 3.5 t/h design throughput.

This saw around 6 t of graphite concentrate produced, of which 5.1 t was bagged for distribution to potential customers. The natural flake graphite concentrate reached an average purity content of 96.6% Ct with a recovery rate achieving 95.3% Ct.

Karl Trudeau, Chief of Operations at Nouveau Monde, said he had never seen such a rapid ramp-up and optimisation of a graphite processing facility.

“This demonstrates the outstanding quality of the West Zone deposit of our Matawinie project. The results shown today clearly exceeded our team’s expectations, especially in the context that we had a very short break-in period. The ore responds very well to the process and its superior quality supports the efficiency of our demonstration plant, which is very encouraging for our future commercial operations.”

The company added: “In view of the promising results of NMG’s graphite production and to follow up on the orders from multiple potential customers, numerous samples have already been shipped and delivered to demonstrate the quality of our products.”

In order to meet this expected demand, the company has decided to modify its operating schedule to achieve a production rate of 3 t/d of graphite concentrate. This increase in production will require that, following the Christmas season, the demo plant will be operating 24 h/d, four days a week.

Having reached its goal of purity for its +150 mesh size concentrate, Nouveau Monde now aims to focus its efforts on the optimisation of the graphite content of the fine flakes.

To achieve this, an investigation to better understand lower grades reported in the -150 mesh category was recently performed. Samples from bagged -150 mesh product have been submitted to a specific assay procedure at NMG’s in-house laboratory in order to obtain additional details on the distribution of graphite within the fine size category.

“Following this investigation, it has been concluded that most of the contamination occurs for particles under 200 mesh size. Possible reasons for the lower grades are non-separated ultrafine particle entrainment at the last steps of flotation or insufficient liberation of the fine flakes,” the company said.

“NMG is working towards further improving the product purity, especially within the fine category, by optimising the various unit operations of the demo plant. For example, the operating parameters of the stirred media mills in the secondary cleaning circuit have not yet undergone a systematic evaluation,” it said.

Nouveau Monde concluded: “Although the company is very pleased with the results presented today, it is confident that actions can be undertaken to further optimise purity and flake size distribution of the graphite concentrate produced in its demo plant while still maintaining very high graphite recovery rates.”

Nouveau Monde Graphite COO Karl Trudeau will discuss the all-electric open-pit mining plan at the company’s Matawinie graphite project at The Electric Mine conference in Toronto in April. He will be joined on stage by ABB Canada’s Michel Serres and MEDATECH’s David Lyon, in a joint presentation titled ‘The NMG journey to the all electric open pit mine: innovation from collaboration’. To learn more about the conference, click here.

Nouveau Monde Graphite’s all-electric Matawinie mine plan stacks up

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.