Nouveau Monde graphite tests boost aim to beat Chinese technology
Nouveau Monde Mining Enterprises Inc. (TSXV: NOU) has announced significant metallurgical results averaging 98.2% C(t) for all flake sizes and reaching as high as 99.1% C(t) for the jumbo flakes of +48 mesh. The results were from a key part of the company’s Matawinie graphite property, located in the Saint-Michel-des-Saints area, approximately 130 km north of Montreal, Québec. The project is also in close proximity to the Lac-Des-Îles mine, the only graphite producer in North America. Moreover, the company is part of an an alliance aiming at bettering Chinese technology.
You can read the full details of the announcement here on InvestorIntel. But the key point was summed up by President and CEO Eric Desaulniers when he pointed out that “the key takeaway for us is that industry experts commonly agree that obtaining these exceptionally high purities on all flake sizes, from a simple low cost process, is one of the most important factors for a successful graphite project. As such, these results places Nouveau Monde in the enviable position of being able to develop products suitable for multiple markets across the entire graphite sector, including the growing li-ion battery market.”
This breakthrough comes just over a month after a very important announcement – and one that should be revisited in light of the metallurgical results.
That is, that Nouveau Monde is one of several companies that have joined forces to acquire a micronizing and spheronizing mill to produce spherical graphite, which they describe as a critical step in the production of anode material used in lithium-ion batteries. The other partners include Elcora Advanced Materials Corp (TSXV: ERA | OTCQB: ECORF), Northern Graphite Corp (TSXV: NGC) and Australian-based Metals of Africa (ASX: MTA) – the last mentioned, incidentally, last week raising A$4 million to progress its graphite project in Mozambique.
The key fact here is that the ultimate goal of all the participating mining companies to achieve full qualification of their materials by lithium-ion battery manufacturers.
They see themselves as taking part in the first real effort by junior graphite companies to address the needs of the battery makers. Just as importantly, the technology will represent a major improvement over methods at present employed in China.
The other recent factor in the Nouveau-Monde story was the report by analyst Éric Lemieux from Toronto-based PearTree Securities. After a visit to the Matawinie project he pronounced that he was “impressed with the pace of work and the scope of the graphite mineralization”. The area is interesting also because while graphite-bearing rock had been noted in the past, historically graphite had not been much of a focus of exploration in the area.
Lemieux placed great stress on the project’s proximity to infrastructure, and to skilled labour in a nearby town. It could also access low cost electricity, water and amenities.
The latest metallurgical testing concerned material taken from the Tony block. Lemieux had identified this block as appearing to hold potential in terms of geographic location, being accessible by road and just 140km from the Port of Montreal.
He also wrote of the Tony block: “We were impressed with the graphite mineralization, the potential for economic concentration and quality as well as with the area’s physiognomy in support of mining operations”.
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