THE NORTH AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY
The province of Quebec, in Canada, is home to an important player of the graphite industry. The mine at Lac-des-Îles, only significant exploitation in North America, is property of Imerys Graphite & Carbon, a French industrial conglomerate with a market value of approximately 6.4 billion euros. However, Imerys has announced the mine, having exhausted its resources, would cease operations in 2020 (source: Graphite and Graphene Conference, F. Corti, Berlin, December 2014). This translates into an interesting business opportunity for Nouveau Monde Graphite.
Helicopter geological survey
In 2015, we discovered, through a 10,000-square-kilometer geological survey, a world-class deposit in the same geological setting, 120km away from the Lac-des-Îles mine. We then explored the area known today as the Matawinie Deposit or Tony Block.
« The strategic location of our mining project, some 150 km north of Montreal in the Matawinie region, positions us competitively to supply the ever-expanding North American market and serve tomorrow’s economy. »
The deposit is divided into several zones. At the moment, since it corresponds to the most advantageous probable reserves while least affecting the community of Saint-Michel-des-Saints, only the Western Zone is exploited by Nouveau Monde. In addition, it is easily accessible thanks to existing forest roads, its proximity to asphalt roads and high voltage power lines, which are necessary for the development of our activities. The resource contained in the West Zone Trench represents only a portion of the total mineral resources identified to date on the Matawinie deposit. These include 59.8 million tonnes grading 4.35% graphitic carbon (“Cg”) of indicated resources using a cut-off grade of 2.20% Cg.
Conclusive Feasibility Study*
The technical results of our feasibility study indicate that the profitability of the graphite of our Matawinie property justifies the exploitation of our deposit located in Saint-Michel-des-Saints.
- Only the West Zone of the Matawinie Deposit is taken into account in the study results
- Mining is fully open pit using electric shovels and trucks
- The mining production schedule is limited to a working shift of 16 hours, 5 days a week in order to reduce the social impact of the project
- Mining will be performed by a mining contractor under the supervision of Nouveau Monde
- The mine’s life is 25.5 years, with a total probable reserve of 59.8 Mt graded at 4.35 % Cg
- Annual production of 100 000 tonnes of graphite concentrate
- Diluted average grade of 4.35% Cg contained in the mineralization during the WMD
- Graphite recovery rate over 94 %
- Purity of the finished product / concentrate greater than 97% Cg
- Sterile to mineral ratio (DVM) of 1.06: 1.
* Caution: There is no certainty that the economic forecasts on which this FS is based will be realized.
The mineral reserve estimate was prepared by MC-DRA, using the mineral resource estimate prepared by SGS Canada Inc. – Geostat of Blainville, Quebec and published by Nouveau Monde on June 27, 2018. Mineral reserves include indicated mineral resources, identified as economically exploitable and take into account mining losses and a dilution factor. In addition, the mineral reserve estimate takes into account the design of an operational pit that will form the basis of the production plan. This pit design uses the economic shell from mining optimization as a guideline. It takes into account geotechnical constraints, smoothing of the pit walls, as well as the addition of ramps to access the bottom of the pit, and ensures the possibility of exploiting the pit with the chosen equipment.
The FS shows an average pit ore feed rate of approximately 9,200 tonnes per day based on the proposed pit work schedule of 5 days per week , two (2) shifts of eight (8) hours per day (16 hours of work per day), a mine life of 25.5 years with an average sterile / ore ratio of 1.06: 1. The exploitable portion of the reserves was established based on with an economic cut-off grade of 2.20% Cg.
After considering a 5% dilution and mining tailings, mineral reserves extracted during the mine’s lifetime total 59,8 Mt with a content of 4,35 % Cg in the Probable category.
|Bench size (double bench)||10||10||m|
|Width of the berms||7||6,2||m|
|Width of the ramp and the transport route||15||15||m|
|Bench face angle||75||75||degrees|
|Overall slope angle||55||60||degrees|
The mine’s infrastructure has been designed to facilitate effective environmental management while limiting the impact on neighboring communities. The treatment plant and the tailings and waste rock pile are located within 500 meters of the pit to reduce truck cycle times and therefore project operating costs. In addition, the mining plan designed for the FS considers the progressive backfilling of the pit with waste rock and tailings to minimize the environmental footprint of the project and allow for the gradual rehabilitation of the mine site throughout the life of the project. The innovative plan for joint management of waste rock and tailings, as well as the water management infrastructure, was designed by SNC-Lavalin Inc.
Treatment and recovery
- Average annual treatment rate: 2.35 Mt of ore
- Average annual output: 100 000 tonnes of graphite concentrate
- Average graphite recovery: over 94 %
- Purity of finished product: greater than 97 %
The Matawinie concentrator combines proven technology and innovative ideas in a robust process flow design with remarkably high rates of graphite recovery. After the pre-feasibility study release, additional closed-loop testing at SGS Mineral Services has shown that a recovery of over 94% is achievable while maintaining product purity above 97%.
The process scheme consists of in-pit crushing, followed by several grinding stages and circuits of separation by flotation. The graphite concentrate is then filtered, dried and classified into four (4) high purity products.
|Flake size||Distribution (%)||Content (% Ct)||Tonnes of product|
|+48 mesh||15%||97,3%||14 800|
|+80 mesh||33%||96,7%||33 400|
|+150 mesh||28%||97,6%||27 700|
|-150 mesh||24%||97,8%||24 100|
NB: Due to rounding, the figures may not add up to the totals shown.
Tailings are treated by flotation and magnetic separation to produce two (2) streams: sulphide residues and non-sulphide residues. These streams are thickened and filtered before being transported to the co-disposal piles.