TSX-listed battery materials developer Nouveau Monde Graphite is advancing with the development of its portfolio of coated spherical purified graphite (CSPG) to meet the demand from battery manufacturers seeking Canada-sourced and environment-friendly materials.
To do this, the company is setting up a coating production line with a planned capacity of up to 2 000 t/y in Phase 1, and continuing its research and development (R&D) initiatives.
This coating line is intended to transform the spherical and flake graphite purified at Nouveau Monde’s purification facilities using the established coating process for which laboratory testing has shown superior performance over the anode material from Asian commercial producers.
Detailed engineering on long-lead equipment is complete and procurement has now started, and Nouveau Monde plans to launch the production and sales of CSPG in the first quarter of 2022.
Concurrent with its efforts to develop a comprehensive industrial batteries ecosystem on its territory, the Québec government’s Programme d'appui à la recherche et à l'innovation du domaine minier has awarded Nouveau Monde with a grant of $600 000 to support the development of its coating operations.
Currently, production of CSPG is located entirely within Asia. However, with exponential growth expected in battery production to support the electric vehicle and energy storage industry, demand for graphite anode materials is forecast to reach over 2.8-million tonnes in 2025, with CSPG representing a significant proportion of this amount, according to the company.
Through Nouveau Monde’s continuing R&D efforts, the recruitment of specialists in natural graphite, carbon and industrial chemistry (including talent from Asia) as well as research partnerships, the company believes it is on track to become a strategic supplier for western world manufacturers.
As such, Nouveau Monde believes that the high-grade graphite concentrate from its Matawinie deposit, combined with the availability of sustainable and abundant hydroelectricity from Hydro Québec, are expected to advantageously position the company in this market.
Québec Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien says the objective of government’s programme is to support companies in carrying out their R&D projects in order to innovate and improve the competitiveness of Québec's mining industry.
Nouveau Monde president and CEO Eric Desaulniers is confident the coating initiative will prove to be a wise investment, as it further supports the company’s vertically integrated business model. “Our ongoing commercial discussions with the end-users have confirmed the importance of coated products that are ready for use in lithium-ion battery anodes as part of our international growth strategy.”
He adds that by covering the entire value chain from the mine to advanced materials, Nouveau Monde is proposing to provide its customers with a turnkey solution that combines high quality, a carbon-neutral footprint, low costs, and guaranteed traceability.
Chairperson Arne Frandsen says the Québec government's ongoing and tangible support for companies like Nouveau Monde, helps position Québec as the “North American electrification hub”.
He adds that the company’s research partnership with the distinct Québec-based McGill University is also a show of Nouveau Monde’s commitment to the Québec centre of excellence for battery materials R&D.