Nemaska Lithium Gets Key Approval for Whabouchi Mine

- September 4th, 2015

Nemaska Lithium announced Friday morning that it had received its General Certificate of Authorization (CA) for its Whabouchi lithium project in Quebec. The company now has all basic environmental authorizations required to move forward with the project.

Nemaska Lithium (TSXV:NMX,OTCQX:NMKEF) announced Friday morning that it has received the General Certificate of Authorization for its Whabouchi lithium project in Quebec. The company now has all basic environmental authorizations required to move forward with the project. 
 
The company received federal environmental approval for Whabouchi at the end of July.
“Whabouchi is the only permitted lithium project within the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory and I would like to thank my team for their dedication and hard work over the past 3 year as they worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone,” said Guy Bourassa, Nemaska Lithium’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Quebec is an excellent jurisdiction in which to build a mine, in particular the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region. Since the beginning, our project has been supported by the various Quebec exploration funds. As we move towards a construction decision, the project benefits from the recently relaunched Plan Nord program from the Quebec Government.”
Pierre Arcand, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources for Quebec, said that the strong engagement between Nemaska and local communities near the mine was a key factor in the approval.
“There were a lot of commitments from the company. We gave the environmental approval based on 37 conditions, and the fact also that there was a lot of consultation with the communities was certainly a key factor,” he said. “The fact today that at this press conference, the grand chief of the Cree is here, is an indication of the willingness of the community to participate.”

 

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Arcand is also the minister responsible for the Côte-Nord region and the minister responsible for Plan Nord, a provincial mining development plan aimed at attracting investment to Quebec’s north. The province released a revised version of Plan Nord in April, and Nemaska’s Whabouchi project is covered by the plan.

Project financing

With permits in hand, Nemaska will need to raise approximately $500 million to build the mine. The government has created a $1-billion fund aimed at supporting mining development, and while Arcand stressed that financing for such projects still needs to come very largely from private investments, he stated that the government will be there to help.
“The government, whenever it is the case, is there to participate in helping to close a deal,” he said.
Bourassa stated that support from the government will help attract investment for the Whabouchi project. “It’s going to be a clear proof to international investors that Quebec is open for business, and that they will put their money where their mouth is,” he said.
He added that he is confident that the government of Quebec will support Whabouchi, especially after Friday’s press conference regarding the announcement. “[The minister] was quite expressive about our project and what it is and how they will be supportive,” Bourassa said. “With what I heard this morning, I’m more confident than ever.”

Lithium to be key to Quebec’s future

Certainly, Arcand agrees that lithium is important for the province’s future. “I think that lithium is an important element obviously,” he said, explaining that the province has a plan aimed at improving the electrification of transportation systems. It will be developed in the next month or so.
“We are going to set a goal to have an amount of electric cars before the year 2020 in the province,” he stated, adding that Quebec will soon establish goals regarding carbon emissions reductions by 2030.
Arcand also spoke about the importance of improving electric vehicle batteries, and suggested that having an operational lithium mine in Quebec could help attract investment in the province from electric vehicle manufacturers. “We need to have better batteries, and by having this kind of mine, maybe there are possibilities to have battery makers who are willing to even invest more in Quebec to be closer to the main product that they need to produce these kinds of batteries,” he said.
He added, “we have three or four companies in the province working on the improvement of batteries. We have some South Korean companies who are interested also in coming to the province. I think that the fact that we have this mine today — that should be in operation very soon — I think that it will certainly make us noticed by many companies in the world.”


Arcand stated that the province is in discussions with other electric vehicle manufacturers, but he could not discuss this further, as the talks are confidential.

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The Whabouchi hard-rock spodumene mine will include a 3,000-tonne-per-day mine and concentrator. Spodumene concentrate from the mine will be shipped to Nemaska’s hyrdromet plant to be built in southern Quebec, where the company will produce high-purity lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate, using its proprietary process to produce lithium hydroxide directly from spodumene concentrate.
Nemaska is one of the only lithium companies in the world looking to produce lithium hydroxide directly, rather than from lithium carbonate (Australia’s Neometals (ASX:NMT) is another). Lithium hydroxide is becoming increasingly important for lithium-ion battery producers.
Nemaska Lithium was up 3.23 percent on Friday to $0.32. The company’s share price has gained 82 percent since Nemaska received its positive federal environmental decision on July 29. Stormcrow Capital recently initiated coverage of Nemaska, giving the company a price target of C$0.54.
 
Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 
Editorial Disclosure: Nemaska Lithium is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid for content. 

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