As part of its plan to become a vertically integrated graphite company, Nouveau Monde Graphite (TSXV: NOU; US-OTC: NMGRF) has signed an agreement with a leading chemical company that will provide commercial operating space, site services and the supply of raw materials for the junior to establish two pilot plants.
The space, within Olin’s facilities in Bécancour, Que., will host two commercial-scale pilot plant purification modules that will help Nouveau Monde develop high-purity graphite products using graphite from its Matawinie project, 150 km north of Montreal. The junior is spending $15 million on the project and expects the plant commissioning to take place in 2021.
The company has developed a proprietary thermochemical purification technology that it says is very effective at purifying larger particle sizes and will allow it to produce high-purity, carbon-neutral graphite flakes.
“After four years of technological development, modelling and lab tests with the best universities, engineering firms and international experts, we are enthusiastic about developing our first commercial-scale purification capacity with the support of one of the most respected chemical companies in the world,” Eric Desaulniers, president and chief executive of Nouveau Monde, said in a statement. “We have found in Olin, a leading supplier driven by the same values of safety, innovation and environmental stewardship.”
Nouveau Monde says it expects to generate positive free operating cash flow from the production of purified advanced materials for high-growth markets, including lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells and 5G heat dissipation foils.
The pilot plant, which will consist of two scalable purification furnaces, will be able to produce 1,500 tonnes of purified battery-grade graphite per year.
The company has also secured land adjacent to Olin’s facilities as a space to build its commercial-scale plant in the future. The space is in an industrial park, with access to rail, port and road infrastructure as well as hydroelectric power. A first phase would target initial production of 40,000 tonnes per year of anode material, with the possibility to expand to 100,000 tonnes per year. Nouveau Monde expects to complete a feasibility study on the plant in 2021.
The company also announced a partnership with Forge Nano earlier this month, allowing it access to Forge’s proprietary spherical graphite technology.
Nouveau Monde’s Matawinie graphite project is in the permitting process. The project’s West Zone Trench hosts 59.8 million tonnes of indicated mineral resources grading 4.35% graphitic carbon.
In the last year, Nouveau Monde’s shares have traded in a range of 12.5¢ and 43¢ per share, and at press time in Toronto were changing hands at 38¢. The junior has 263 million common shares outstanding for a $100-million market capitalization.