Electric Cats for a Nouveau graphite mine
Good for carbon-neutral Quebec mine, surface mining at large Metal Tech News – June 23, 2021
Last updated 6/29/2021 at 4:52pm
In a move that bolsters its own vision of becoming a carbon-neutral miner of graphite and advances technologies that will lower the carbon footprint of surface mines around the globe, Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc. has signed a deal with Caterpillar Inc. to develop, test, and produce a fleet of all-electric Cat mining equipment for its coming Matawinie graphite operation in Quebec.
"We are proud to be a driving force for our peers as we strive to electrify our operations to meet our carbon neutrality commitments while maintaining the productivity and efficiency standards of our mining operations," said Nouveau Monde Graphite President and CEO Eric Desaulniers. "Even more gratifying and important to our corporate mission is that our project can serve as a springboard for the future of the mining industry by collaborating with Caterpillar on these cutting-edge technologies."
As a company seeking to lower the carbon footprint of surface mines, Nouveau Monde has laid out a vision of being a carbon-neutral producer of the high-quality graphite anode material that goes into the lithium-ion batteries powering electric vehicles and storing renewable energy.
To accomplish this noble goal, the soon-to-be graphite producer plans to have an all-electric fleet of equipment charged with hydroelectric, which will substantially reduce the direct emissions from its Matawinie Mine.
The drawback to this strategy to develop a mine that produces net-zero-emissions graphite for the batteries that will enable a global low-carbon future is the mining equipment technology to make it a reality has yet to be developed.
While great strides have been made in recent years to develop all-electric underground mining equipment, not as much progress has been made on the trucks and diggers for surface mines.
In fact, a prototype of a first-of-its-kind electric-powered heavy-duty truck developed by Propulsion Québec with federal and provincial funding is to be tested at the Matawinie site.
While this test is a positive step toward zero-emissions mining, it does not address the electric dozers, loaders, and excavators that would be needed to fully implement Nouveau Monde's net-zero mining vision.
Now, by collaborating with the global supplier of enormous "yellow iron" to some of the largest surface mines around the world, the path to an all-electric surface mining fleet at the Matawinie Mine has become much clearer.
"I recall our first meeting with Caterpillar some two years ago, outlining our vision of a zero-emission mine in Québec," said Nouveau Monde Graphite Chairman Arne Frandsen. "Today, alongside Caterpillar, which in my opinion is the most trusted and reputable supplier of heavy-mining equipment worldwide, we can bring the zero-emission machines vision into reality."
Looking to accelerate and tailor the development of equipment for the Matawinie mine, Caterpillar will work with Nouveau Monde's team throughout the design, building, and testing of the zero-emission fleet and infrastructure prior to commercial production.
"The collaboration between Caterpillar and Nouveau Monde marks an important milestone in the mining industry," said Caterpillar Group President Denise Johnson. "Through integrated technology, machines and services, the entire Caterpillar team is proud to support Nouveau Monde as they work towards constructing and establishing their first zero-emission mine."
This collaboration is expected to result in Caterpillar becoming the exclusive supplier of an all-electric mining fleet for commercial deployment at Nouveau Monde's Matawinie graphite mine by 2028.
Once in full production, the Matawinie mine near the town of Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Quebec is expected to produce 100,000 metric tons of graphite concentrate per year. Flake graphite from this mine will be trucked to Nouveau Monde's advanced material plant at Bécancour, where it will be upgraded to the coated spherical graphite that serves as the anode material in lithium-ion batteries.
Earlier this year, the company received a Quebec government environmental decree to begin developing a mine at its Matawinie project and the company plans to begin delivering the first carbon-neutral graphite in 2023.
More information on Nouveau Monde's larger carbon-neutral graphite mining and processing strategy can be read at Nouveau maps carbon neutral forever plan in the April 14, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.