Nouveau Monde Graphite commits to all-electric fleet for sustainable open-pit mining

Mike Edwards   

News electric vehicles mining

Set to become the world’s first all-electric open-pit mine, Montreal-based Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) is advancing its procurement process for its fleet and charging infrastructure through an international call for pre-qualification. Yet another step towards achieving its carbon-neutrality vision, the company says, adopting an all-electric operating model provides tremendous environmental benefits as well as long-term savings for NMG thanks to Québec’s clean and affordable hydropower.

Following work by its International Task Force Committee, Nouveau Monde has explored technologies, best practices and operational parameters to bring its vision to life in a cost-effective and technologically advanced way. Discussions with manufacturers have already enabled to identify existing machinery in development and/or available, notably for the ancillary fleet where purchasing agreements are being finalized.

Through the call for pre-qualification, large OEMs and innovative SMEs alike are now invited to submit detailed proposals and performance specs for their production equipment solutions. Whether powered by lithium-ion batteries, plug-in systems or hydrogen fuel cells, Nouveau Monde is seeking the best zero emission equipment for heavy-duty operations and harsh conditions associated with open-pit mining. Pre-qualification technical documents, with requirements and contact info, can be consulted here: www.nouveaumonde.group/qualification-electric-fleet. The submission period is open until January 30, 2021.

NMG is also set to build a pilot facility to demonstrate a carbon-neutral production strategy for battery-grade graphite materials, according to Chemengonline.com. The company has signed an agreement with Olin Corp. of Clayton, MO, to construct two commercial-scale graphite-purification furnaces within Olin’s existing facility in Bécancour, QC, which also enables the project to leverage the area’s extensive hydropower infrastructure. NMG has developed a proprietary thermochemical process, which employs Olin’s chlorine-based products, and enables graphite purity levels exceeding 99.95%, according to Eric Desaulniers, president and CEO of NMG.

The province of Québec features environmental standards, innovative talents, business-forward policies and virtually unlimited hydropower, making it a suitable environment for OEMs to build and deploy their electric solutions. In line with their electrification strategy, both Québec and Canadian governments are investing in cleantech through financial incentives, development programs and infrastructure to propel growth in the already-booming electric industrial hub. Thus, Nouveau Monde has been selected as key partner to develop a new electric propulsion system with a rapid recharging infrastructure adapted to heavy vehicles in the open-pit mining industry.

“Going all-electric is technically achievable, economically sound and environmentally responsible,” noted Desaulniers.

“We are thrilled to be driving innovation and progress in our sector and hope to see our peers embark in this effort to minimize the footprint of the mining industry. Our initial market screening has already shown attractive technologies and ingenious mindset from OEMs that will enable us to achieve our carbon-neutrality promise to our community, shareholders and customers.”

The most advanced graphite project in North America, Nouveau Monde is targeting the launch of its commercial operations in 2023, with an allocated transition period to fully electrify its fleet by 2028. The Company’s demonstration plant already in production offers in the meantime an ideal site to test equipment in real conditions, optimize design and advance technology.

The construction of a dedicated power line to supply the mining site will guarantee a reliable, affordable and clean supply of hydroelectricity to support NMG’s energy-intensive operations.

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