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NEWS!Nouveau Monde Announces Phase 2 of What Is

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Nouveau Monde Announces Phase 2 of What Is Planned to Become North America’s Largest Fully Integrated Anode Material Produc...
March 11 2021 - 08:00AM
GlobeNewswire Inc.

Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc. (“Nouveau Monde” or the “Company”) (TSXV: NOU; OTCQX: NMGRF; Frankfurt: NM9) is pleased to announce the completion of a Front-End Loading engineering analysis (“FEL-1”) for Phase 2 of its large-scale commercial lithium-ion anode material project in Bécancour, Québec, Canada as it continues to execute its strategy of becoming the Western World’s largest producer of high-quality anode materials to be used mainly in batteries for electrical vehicles and renewable energy storage. As it expands, Nouveau Monde preserves its firm commitment to carbon neutrality.
Arne H Frandsen, Chairman of Nouveau Monde, commented: “Nouveau Monde is firmly on its way to become one of the world’s most important anode materials producers, delivering high quality anode materials from our sophisticated processing and beneficiation plants in Bécancour. Our successful upstream integration with our Matawinie mineral project is designed to ensure that we have access to the right quality feedstock for decades to come. Thanks to Nouveau Monde’s team of local and internationally acclaimed experts and professionals, we are continuing to move forward at speed!”

Eric Desaulniers, President and CEO of Nouveau Monde, added: “We founded Nouveau Monde in 2011 with the vision of developing the largest and best-in-class graphite-based anode material supplier in North America. For the past five years, we have specifically focused on developing the processing know-how and skills internally. We have hired highly qualified professionals from around the world, creating a multifaceted team of anode materials experts. This team has in turn engaged with multiple other local and international experts to establish our technologies to produce high-quality lithium-ion anode material on a large scale.

Today, we are proud to announce Phase 2 of our effort, with a projected low operating cost profile. This next phase will continue to comply with Nouveau Monde’s high ESG standards and will benefit from Québec’s green and inexpensive hydroelectricity as our exclusive energy source. Our significant forecasted incremental annual operating profit potential is a testimony that it is possible to embrace sustainable development and profitability to the benefit of all stakeholders.

It is essential for North America to develop a fully integrated supply chain of high-quality battery materials that are produced at meaningful scale, with the lowest carbon footprint, with strict traceability compliance while maintaining cost competitiveness at all times.”

Figure 1: 3D rendering of Nouveau Monde's Bécancour VAP project

Projected Capital and Operating Costs for Phase 2

The FEL-1 concludes that a production of 42,000 tpa of anode material and 3,000 tpa of purified flakes can be achieved with the construction of a brand-new state-of-the-art facility on Nouveau Monde’s industrial site of 200,000 m2 and supported by its existing Phase 1 plant infrastructure. The FEL-1 includes a review of all environmental regulations and permits, the project schedule, product specifications definition, stakeholders’ analysis, the capital expenditure budget and projected operating costs. Nouveau Monde’s site in Bécancour is strategically situated for large-scale anode material production, with proximity to potential customers, access to key utilities (e.g., water, hydropower, gas), adjacent to a chlor-alkali producer which provides access to key consumables, a skilled workforce and an adjacent deep-water international port on the St. Lawrence River.

Processed natural graphite 60
Anode material (CSPG) production 42
Purified jumbo flakes production 3
Micronised graphite by-product 14
Chloride by-product 1
Table 1: Annual operating metrics

In M US$ IN US$ / tonne
Direct cost 359 7,988
Indirect cost 103 2,280
Contingency 83 1,848
Total CAPEX 545 12,116
Table 2: Initial capital expenditure estimate (excluding Owner's cost, provision for escalation and taxes & duties)

In M US$ IN US$ / tonnes
Anode Revenue 300 7,152
Material All-in cost excluding 91 2,167
(CSPG) raw material
42 kt production Raw material 23(1) 77(2) 544(1) 1,841(2)
Operating Margin 186 132 4,440 3,144
Purified Revenue 18 6,000
Jumbo All-in cost excluding 3 1,069
Flakes raw material
3 kt production Raw material 1(1) 8(2) 414(1) 2,631(2)
Operating Margin 14 7 4,517 2,300
Total Operating Margin – 45 ktpa facility 200 139 4,445 3,088
Table 3 :Projected operational expenditures

(1) Assumes a transfer pricing at Matawinie mineral project FS 43-101 operating cost plus transportation cost to Bécancour
(2) Assumes a transfer pricing at Matawinie mineral project FS 43-101 sales price plus transportation cost to Bécancour

The Capex and Opex prepared for this FEL-1 are based on a Class 4 type estimate as per the American Association of Cost Engineers (“AACE”) International Practice 18R-97 with a target accuracy of ±15%. Although some individual elements of the Capex may not achieve the target level of accuracy, the overall estimate falls within the parameters of the intended accuracy. The Capex is estimated at US$545 million including the material, equipment, labour and freight required for the plant, as well as all infrastructure and services necessary to support the operation. The estimate excludes the owner’s cost, provision for escalation and all duties and taxes.

Bécancour VAP Project Financing Strategy

The Company’s strategy is to finance the Bécancour VAP project with a structure involving approximately two thirds comprised of non-dilutive financial instruments and the remaining one third of equity financing. The non-dilutive financial instruments that are contemplated by the Company are a combination of bank loans, structured debt, forward payments on production and royalty streams. The Company’s largest shareholder, The Pallinghurst Group, is fully supportive of the Bécancour VAP project. No assurance can be given that any such additional financing will be available or that, if available, it can be obtained on terms favourable to the Company. The failure to obtain additional financing on favourable terms, or at all, could have a material adverse effect on the ability of the Company to complete the construction of the Bécancour VAP project.

Project Timeline

Given the strong economics revealed in the FEL-1, Nouveau Monde has commenced a FEL-2 pre-feasibility study, based on the results from the demonstration modules, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022. The FEL-1 evaluated various strategies to optimise the deployment of the project, including advancing directly to an enhanced FEL-2 program that includes detailed engineering of certain portions of the project and a modular construction and commissioning sequence enabling an initial production capacity to be available earlier, while construction activities are being completed. The project development pathway beyond detailed design and initiation of the construction phase will be determined by financial partnerships and end-customer commitments. It is currently anticipated by management that the first production lines of the Phase 2 Bécancour VAP project will commence their commissioning in Q1 2025.

Figure 2: Bécancour VAP Project prospective timetable

De-Risking by Building Significant Phase 1 Plant and Strategic R&D

The production of purified, coated spherical graphite used as anode material in lithium-ion battery involves three major process steps, namely: shaping, purification and coating. Since 2016, the Company has committed approximately US$27 million in process development and de-risking by running large-scale bench test and building demonstration units. Since early 2020, Nouveau Monde has been operating two commercial scale shaping units in which it processed nearly 1,000 batches to confirm the optimised process parameters and equipment performance profile to be implemented to produce systematically within customers’ specifications. Significant equipment improvements and modifications were implemented on-site to achieve an optimum operating throughput and overall yield while maintaining constant in-specs quality material. Ongoing internal R&D programs on the shaping process are targeting manufacturing excellence by the enhancement of fundamental understanding of fluid dynamics and air flows by using as-built scan, numerical modelling and adoption of advanced automation and artificial intelligence technologies.

As for the Phase 1 purification sector of the facility, Nouveau Monde developed its proprietary thermochemical process that is currently being deployed at a 1,500 tpa nameplate capacity in Olin’s facility adjacent to the Company’s industrial site, with a commissioning scheduled to start in the first half of 2021 (Construction Commenced of Phase 1 Purification Facility for Lithium-Ion Battery Material in Bécancour and the Land for Phase 2 Expansion Is Now Successfully Acquired).

The final process step to produce anode material consists of coating the purified spherical graphite with a carbon-based material to minimise the surface area and enhance the stability of the solid electrolyte interface. Nouveau Monde is currently in the detailed engineering phase and has initiated the procurement to build the first module of the Phase 1 2,000 tpa capacity plant that is scheduled to be commissioned early in 2022 (Nouveau Monde Advances its 2,000-Tonne Coated Spherical Graphite Production Facility – Commissioning Set for Q1 Next Year). Nouveau Monde is of the view that its strategy of de-risking the process by investing in a rapid deployment of a first scalable-complete module will allow a faster product qualification with lithium-ion battery cell makers and more efficient and reliable engineering development.

Product Offering and Marketing

The anode material flowsheet developed by Nouveau Monde is designed to produce anode material of various particle sizes varying between 8 and 20 µm with flexibility to serve various lithium-ion battery applications. Roskill’s Fall 2020 issue reported 2019 average Chinese sales prices of US$ 7,157/tonne for CSPG with specifications similar to the anode material that is expected to be produced by Nouveau Monde. The Company is of the view that this is a fair and prudent estimate of the projected sales price for the Bécancour VAP project. Moreover, the Company and its experienced graphite marketing team is actively developing value-added opportunities for the 1 and 8 µm micronised graphite representing a valuable anode material process by-product potentially serving multiple niche applications.

In their latest February 2021 Lithium-ion Battery Megafactory assessment report, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence forecasts 562 GWh in 2025 and 937 GWh in 2030 of battery capacity in North America and Europe combined with associated graphite anode demand of 674,000 tpa and 1,124,000 tpa, respectively.

Best in Class in Reducing Supply Chain Carbon Footprint; Fully Committed to Carbon Neutrality

Nouveau Monde seeks to contribute to the decarbonisation of the economy by producing graphite materials, a required input for the production of low-carbon products, with the smallest greenhouse gas (“GHG”) footprint possible. In addition to pushing the science and technology development in order to mine and transform graphite in a sustainable and low GHG-emitting manner, the Company has pledged to offset all GHG emissions from sources it either has direct control over or may significantly influence (i.e., the Company’s Scope 1, Scope 2 and portion of Scope 3 emissions). Based on the FEL-1, the Bécancour VAP projected GHG emissions are detailed in table 4.

Source Total GHG
Scope 1

Stationary combustion N/A -
Mobile combustion N/A -
Fugitive emissions N/A -
Process emissions

partial oxidation of carbon from the furnace packing material (calcined petroleum coke) 5,760
partial oxidation of carbon from petroleum pitch in the coating process 1,975
Total Scope 1 7,735
Scope 2

Stationary combustion electricity production 300
Total Scope 2 300

Scope 3

Stationary combustion combustion of pitch-derived residual (condensed) material 4,608
Mobile combustion

transport of calcined petroleum coke 260
transport of petroleum pitch 255
Process emissions production of calcined petroleum coke 3,842
Total Scope 3 8,965
Table 4: Projected carbon footprint of the Bécancour VAP project

The offsetting costs are estimated at US$ 11.86/ t CO2 eq per tonne of CSPG produced and represent approximately US$ 202,000 annually. On a per product basis, this represents approximately US$ 3.83 per tonne of CSPG product and US$ 2.01 per tonne of by-product.

The forecasted GHG footprint for the Bécancour VAP project is derived from the FEL-1, its associated energy and mass balances, and the most likely procurement scenario for process inputs such as calcined petroleum coke and petroleum pitch. Nouveau Monde envisions developing and producing the cleanest anode-grade graphite material possible and is continuously striving for excellence in minimising GHG emissions and climate impact.

Nouveau Monde has ongoing R&D programs in place with professor Philippe Ouzilleau, PhD, from McGill University in Montréal to find alternate carbon sources to the petroleum-based product currently being used in the coating process with the objective of significantly reducing its carbon emissions.

Nouveau Monde also remains fully committed to achieving carbon neutrality at the Company’s level, including the Matawinie mine and concentrator in Saint-Michel-des-Saints and the Bécancour VAP project.

Co-Existence of the Matawinie Mineral Project and the Bécancour VAP Project

The FEL-1 does not impact nor alter the National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101”) feasibility study filed on December 10, 2018 with regards to the Matawinie mineral project. While Nouveau Monde is of the view that there are obvious operational and financial benefits to developing a fully controlled and integrated business model, both the Matawinie mineral project and Bécancour VAP project should be considered independently from each other with regards to their economic viability. To this end, it is the intention of the Company to sell opportunistically the high-purity jumbo and large flakes produced at the Matawinie mineral project directly into third party traditional and speciality graphite markets, while the Bécancour VAP project intends to source its products, comprised of intermediate and fine flakes, from multiple sources. As a reference, the FEL-1 is based on a graphite concentrate feedstock pricing identical to a weighted average between the intermediate and fine flakes expected sales price shown at table 19.3 of the Matawinie NI 43-101 feasibility study. It is Nouveau Monde’s intention to prioritise the use of the feedstock produced at the Matawinie mineral project; however, the Company intends to source raw material from other graphite suppliers from time to time should market, or operational, conditions so justify.

Due to its modular structure, upon Phase 2 of the Bécancour VAP project successfully reaching name plate capacity, we believe it will likely be possible for Nouveau Monde to expand its capacity further. Such Phase 3 expansion is currently being analysed by management, but its implementation has not been agreed to and is entirely speculative at this point in time.

The Company will inform its stakeholders of material developments with regards to the Bécancour VAP project as required by its continuous disclosure obligations set out in Regulation 51-102.

About Nouveau Monde
Nouveau Monde is striving to become a key element in the sustainable energy revolution. The Company is working towards developing a fully-integrated source of green battery anode material in Québec, Canada. Targeting full-scale commercial operations by 2023, the Company is developing advanced carbon-neutral graphite-based material solutions for the growing lithium-ion and fuel cell markets. With low-cost operations and high ESG standards, Nouveau Monde aspires to become a strategic supplier to the world’s leading battery and auto manufacturers, ensuring robust and reliable advanced material, while guaranteeing supply chain traceability.

Media Investors
Julie Paquet
Director, Communications
+1-450-757-8905 #140
jpaquet@nouveaumonde.ca Christina Lalli
Director, Investor Relations

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