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Canadian graphite miner NMG scores deals with GM, Panasonic

Nouveau Monde Graphite (TSX-V: NOU) (NYSE: NMG) inked on Thursday multi-year offtake agreements with General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Panasonic Holdings, with both companies also vowing to invest in the Canadian miner to help it produce high-quality graphite in North America.

GM and Panasonic have each committed to purchase 18,000 tonnes of  natural graphite active anode material annually over a period of six to seven years, the Montreal-based miner said.

Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) aims to become North America’s first fully integrated source of natural graphite active anode material, which accounts for about half of an electric vehicle (EV) battery. 

To achieve this goal, the miner is developing the Matawinie project in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Quebec, about 100 miles north of Montreal, where it also plans to build a graphite concentrator. 

NMG will also install a refining facility for the production of active anode material in Becancour, Quebec. This is the same area where GM and Ford Motor Co. are already constructing EV battery-component facilities.

The Matawinie open pit mine is expected to produce 103,000 tonnes of graphite a year over the course of 25 years and is part of a larger strategy to turn Canada into a production centre for lithium ion batteries. 

The miner said the investments and agreements are seen as a testament to the company’s bankability and are expected to boost the commercialization of a local and traceable value chain for the EV market in North America.

Map of NMG’s integrated extraction and advanced manufacturing routes to supply Panasonic Energy and GM. (Courtesy of Nouveau Monde Graphite.)

NMG aims to raise $1.2 billion to build the whole project, with $725 million coming from debt and $475 million from equity. GM and Panasonic are investing $25 million each in the company at this stage. 

The two firms and potential co-investors could join future rounds of financing worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the miner said in a statement.

“We had been looking for top-tier EV and battery manufacturers to bolster our commercial vision [of becoming a leader in the market],” NMG’s founder, president and chief executive, Eric Desaulniers, said. “Thanks to visionary customers and investors, we are now moving toward establishing a fully local and traceable value chain.”

NMG is also backed by the Quebec government’s financial arm, London-based private equity shop Pallinghurst Resources LLP and Japan’s Mitsui & Co. 

The West is looking for sources of graphite outside China, the world’s top producer and exporter, which also refines more than 90% of the world’s graphite into the material that is used in virtually all EV battery anodes.

This quest to bring graphite projects to fruition has become more urgent in the past months, as China announced in October it will require export permits for some graphite products.

NMG said its recent acquisition of the Uatnan project for its Phase-3 expansion also provides a supply opportunity for Western EV and battery manufacturers looking to secure and grow active anode material volumes as their production increases.

Source: MINING.COM – Read More