A stalled Quebec lithium mission is getting a second likelihood at tapping into North America’s fast-expanding electrical car battery provide chain because the provincial authorities commits $80 million to relaunching Nemaska Lithium.
The homegrown Quebec miner was as soon as on observe to turn out to be Canada’s first large-scale producer of lithium hydroxide by its Whabouchi mine, positioned about 700 kilometres northwest of Montreal. Yet partway by the $1.1 billion build-out of the mine and associated processing plant in Shawinigan, Que., price overruns, a pointy decline in lithium costs and an absence of latest financing derailed the mission.
Provincially owned funding agency Investissement Québec and personal mining investor Pallinghurst Group stepped in to buy Nemaska in 2020. Chemical firm Livent has since purchased out Pallinghurst’s stake, and along with the Quebec authorities begun steering the Nemaska mission again towards manufacturing.
The $80 million in provincial funding goals to restart building on the mine within the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James area, in addition to kick-start work on a brand new processing plant.
Quebec Minister of Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon introduced the funding in Montreal June 30, calling the mission an vital “pillar” of the province’s battery business.
Since the Nemaska mission stalled in early 2019, Quebec has attracted a number of main battery provide chain buyers, together with Germany’s BASF, Posco Chemical and General Motors. The three companies are establishing a pair of processing crops — each in Bécancour halfway between Montreal and Quebec City — that can produce a key enter for lithium-ion batteries.
In June 2021, Nemaska mentioned it has secured a website in Bécancour for a plant that might course of lithium salt produced on the Whabouchi mine into battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The firm mentioned the placement on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River provides a number of benefits over the plant initially deliberate for Shawinigan.
While the provincial funding will clear the best way for building by supporting research and prep work, the mine and processing plant stay contingent on financing. The Quebec authorities mentioned Nemaska expects to lift the capital for the mission, valued at $1.5 billion, early subsequent yr. The lithium mine and processing plant may come on-line as early as 2025, the province mentioned.
With different Canadian lithium tasks going through comparable hurdles to Nemaska’s, the nation remains to be awaiting large-scale manufacturing of the important thing battery materials, in keeping with Natural Resources Canada. As of final yr, practically two dozen lithium mining tasks had been being superior throughout 5 provinces.