Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc. [NOU-TSXV; NMGRF-OTCQX, NM9-FSE] has released an update on social acceptability efforts related to its Matawinie graphite mining project, which is located in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Que., approximately 150 km north of Montreal.
Matawinie is expected to be the first of its kind to operate as an all-electric, zero-carbon mine.
The company said a recent survey conducted by Leger confirms favourable reception of the project in Upper Matawinie, with 82% of the respondents calling the project positive or very positive.
Nouveau Monde says the survey follows the one conducted in the fall of 2018 regarding the community’s opinion about the project. Noveau Monde mandated Leger to repeat the exercise using the same methodology to measure perceptions of the project over time.
It said the results have remained consistent, with an equivalent rate of support (83% in 2018 and 82% in 2019) and viewpoints that remain positive regarding economic benefits (89%), and community integration with respect to quality of life (76%) and environment (70%).
“Like any other natural resource, graphite represents a source of collective wealth, and we must take care to develop it with the agreement and in the interest of the local community and all Quebecers,” said Nouveau Monde President and CEO Eric Desaulniers.
“In addition to informal discussions with our fellow citizens and partners, the survey results show that we have been able to reconcile social, environmental and economic factors to develop a project that holds promise for the region,” he said.
Nouveau Monde is planning to establish a large-scale secondary graphite transformation facility that caters to the needs of the booming lithium-ion battery industry.
Two years ago, the company published the results of a bankable feasibility study, which it said envisions production of 100,000 tonnes per year, purity of over 97%, and project payback of 2.6 years.
The company is aiming for commercial production by 2022.
Currently, Nouveau Monde operates a demonstration plant where it expects to produce 2,000 tonnes of concentrated flake graphite, material that is being sent to potential North American and international clients for qualification of its products.
Meanwhile, Nouveau Monde has said it expects 2020 to be a busy year as it moves to obtain the required permits for the Matawinie Project, begin construction of its commercial facilities, and launch demonstration operations for its value-added graphite products.
“While we built a strong foundation four our company in 2019, 2020 will be a pivotal year for us to deploy our business strategy in a concrete and productive way,” said Desaulniers. “Thanks to the expertise of our team and the commitment of our business and community partners, we can start generating value for our shareholders, employees and milieu.”
In 2019, Nouveau achieved a number of key milestones, including:
The signing of an offtake and joint marketing agreement with global commodities trader Traxys Group for 25,000 tonnes of flake graphite concentrate.
It received a $4.2 million grant from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada program to fund construction of a pilot plant for purified spherical graphite.
The company also raised $22 million in combined capital, including a private placement with leading global mining investor Pallinghurst Group for the operation of the existing flake graphite plant, the construction of a demonstration value added products plant, and working capital.
Another 2019 highlight was the submission of the environmental and social impact study for the Matawinie Project and continuation of the environmental assessment process with the Quebec government.
On Tuesday, Nouveau Monde shares advanced 8.3% or $0.02 to 26 cents. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of 17 cents and 28 cents.