Integrated Operations & Phased Development
NMG continues to qualify anode material samples with leading battery and EV manufacturers, as well as purified jumbo flakes for niche applications such as hydrogen fuel cells. Production at Phase-1 facilities and performance tests at NMG’s state-of-the-art laboratory enable the supply of graphite products in a variety of specifications to meet the individual requirements of each manufacturer. A total of 47 samples were produced and supplied to potential customers in 2022 as part of sales discussions. Sustained interest from top-tier manufacturers is supported by product qualification protocols, quality checks, site visits to the Company’s Phase-1 operations, requests for information, and environmental due diligence.
In line with specific client specifications, NMG progresses in optimizing its proprietary purification process. Recent production samples have demonstrated excellent results both at the Company’s laboratory and at a leading third-party facility, indicating effective process and operational parameters.
Testing of the new commercial-scale coating unit and second shaping module also advances at the Company’s Phase-1 plant with the objective of providing a wider range of specialized products and enhancing production performance in terms of yield and throughput.
Piloting at Phase-1 facilities informs process optimization and engineering for NMG’s Phase-2 Matawinie Mine and Bécancour Battery Material Plant. To that end, NMG has finalized the execution and contracting strategy for each project in preparation for construction once a final investment decision (“FID”) is reached.
Groundwork at the Matawinie site continued up to February 2023 to build environmental infrastructure such as water ditches, a water collection basin, as well as organic and overburden stockpiles, and prepare the site for the next phase of civil works. As part of its electrification strategy, the Company is also progressing with Caterpillar Inc. (“Caterpillar”) towards equipping the Matawinie Mine with an all-electric fleet. Caterpillar’s and NMG’s technical teams are actively engaged in assessing technology opportunities and planning the zero-emission fleet development and testing for the Phase-2 Matawinie Mine.
Caterpillar’s and NMG’s technical teams gathered at Caterpillar’s Immersive Visualization Center to advance electrification plans.
Supporting its Phase 3, the Company completed and filed the preliminary economic assessment (“PEA”) for the Uatnan Mining Project located in Québec, Canada. The PEA shows strong economics for NMG’s updated operational parameters and production volumes, targeting the production of approximately 500,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate per annum over a 24-year life of mine. The proposed Uatnan Mining Project is currently one of the largest projected natural graphite productions being developed in the world. Consistent with NMG’s vertical integration strategy and accelerating market dynamics, the Uatnan Mining Project’s contemplated production would serve as feedstock for battery materials advanced manufacturing, providing refining expansion opportunity, increasing potential margins, and enhancing the Company’s growth profile. The PEA shows that the Uatnan Mining Project is technically feasible as well as economically viable. On the basis of these positive results, NMG intends to launch an updated feasibility study in compliance with the option and joint venture agreement signed with Mason Graphite Inc.
Commercial Engagement & Market Outlook
In line with its active marketing and commercialization program, the Company pursues engagement with a series of potential tier-1 customers in the EV and battery sector towards offtake agreements. On the heels of its agreement with Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd. (“Panasonic Energy”), NMG is collaborating with Panasonic Energy’s specialized teams to finalize product qualification and establish a contemplated definitive offtake agreement. Meetings and on-site visits help advance technical and commercial components.
Additional commercial discussions with potential customers for active anode material and graphite-based solutions for niche applications also continue in parallel. These activities are supported by the production of samples at the Company’s Phase-1 plants, site visits, quality checks, and environmental diligence reviews.
Current market conditions remain favorable to NMG due to increased demand for battery minerals, governmental policies for localization of energy/EV industries and restricting sales of internal combustion engines, as well as trade agreements.
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence now tracks 8,148 GWh of global lithium-ion battery production capacity to come into production by 2030 to meet these underlying economic trends. Demand for advanced materials is correspondingly set to increase up to fivefold, with graphite outpacing all other battery metals at 10,363,000 tonnes per annum (“tpa”) (March 2023).
Canada is among the emerging leaders of this new economy, ranking second after China according to BloombergNEF’s annual global lithium-ion battery supply chain report (November 2022), due to its mineral resources, ESG factors, key infrastructure, innovation, and industry, including Québec’s battery valley in Bécancour. NMG’s site for its Phase-2 Bécancour Battery Material Plant is indeed located at the center of this fast-developing zone, supported by the Québec Government’s battery hub strategy.
The Company is ideally located to cater to the North American and European markets with its large graphite deposit, proprietary ecotechnologies, demonstrated production capacity, carbon-neutral profile, as well as preferential jurisdiction advantages including clean hydropower, flexible logistical base and stable fiscal and political environment.
True to its Zero-Harm Philosophy, the Company is focused on the safe and environmentally responsible conduct of its activities. NMG ended the year with an OSHA rate of 2.25 at the Company’s facilities and 0 at contractors’ work sites, with 0 major environmental incidents.
Throughout the year, the Company reinforced engagement with communities, First Nations, and stakeholders to collaborate on the development of NMG’s projects, create shared value, and elevate research and development (“R&D”) efforts and industrial collaboration. For instance, NMG obtained grants for an amount of $3.6 million for the deployment of the coating technology at the Company’s Phase-1 operations and for R&D projects targeting the development of advanced manufacturing of graphite-based materials with a low environmental impact.
Québec Minister Caroline Proulx and President & CEO Eric Desaulniers pose with members of NMG’s R&D team at the Company’s Phase-1 facilities during the announcement of the provincial grants.
In parallel, financing efforts for the development of NMG’s fully vertically integrated Phase-2 operations, combining the Bécancour Battery Material Plant and Matawinie Mine, continue towards securing medium-term debt complemented by strategic equity participation. Due diligence exercises for export credit agencies and engagement with governmental branches progress as planned.
The Company’s year-end cash position of $59.9 million
2022 Carbon Balance
Taking responsibility for its environmental footprint, the Company is taking concrete steps to avoid, reduce, and fully offset its greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, thus maintaining its carbon-neutral status and transitioning to Net Zero. For 2022, the Company reports GHG emissions of 1,229.1 tonnes of CO2 equivalent associated with carrying out operations at its Phase-1 demonstration plants and corporate offices.
NMG has purchased carbon credits certified to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program to offset this balance. Credits align with NMG’s Climate Action Plan offsetting strategy, drive investments in developing economies affected by climate change and support the following clean energy and biodiversity projects:
- Construction and operation of a greenfield 20 MW solar photovoltaic power plant in Ambatolampy, Madagascar, to reduce the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. The project is the first large-scale solar photovoltaic power plant on the island and is set to generate approximately 23,431 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emission reductions per year.
- Preservation of 64,000 hectares of tropical peat swamp forest via the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve Project in Indonesia. The area, rich in biodiversity including the endangered Bornean orangutan, was originally slated to be converted into palm oil estates.
- Forest plantations on degraded grasslands under extensive grazing in the Guanaré Forest in Uruguay.
NMG voluntarily initiated reporting under the Climate Disclosure Project (“CDP”) in 2022 to demonstrate its management of climate risks and opportunities, environmental performance and GHG reduction efforts, as well as climate action. CDP provides a transparent and recognized disclosure system that enables investors and stakeholders to access and compare organizations’ environmental stewardship. The Company’s rating and survey responses are now publicly available on CDP’s platform.
Furthermore, a dedicated ESG Report to be published in Q2-2023 will provide additional visibility over the extent of the Company’s efforts and performance in 2022 regarding climate action, environmental stewardship, governance, and social engagement.
About Nouveau Monde Graphite
Nouveau Monde Graphite is striving to become a key contributor to the sustainable energy revolution. The Company is working towards developing a fully integrated source of carbon-neutral battery anode material in Québec, Canada for the growing lithium-ion and fuel cell markets. With enviable ESG standards, NMG aspires to become a strategic supplier to the world’s leading battery and automobile manufacturers, providing high-performing and reliable advanced materials while promoting sustainability and supply chain traceability. www.NMG.com
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