MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - April 11, 2017) - Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc. (TSX VENTURE:NOU)(OTCQB:NMGRF)(FRANKFURT:NM9) ("Nouveau Monde") is pleased to announce that it has launched a prefeasibility study (or "PFS") on its wholly owned Tony claim block, part of its Matawinie graphite Property.
Met-Chem Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the multi-disciplinary global DRA engineering group, has been contracted to produce and coordinate the PFS. Other engineering firms including SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, and Journeaux Assoc., a division of Lab Journeaux Inc., will be involved in certain aspects of the PFS. The PFS will focus on the West Zone deposit where a Mineral Resource Estimate was recently updated to 32.9 Mt grading 4.50 % graphitic carbon (or "Cg") in the indicated category and 0.2 Mt grading 4.84 % Cg in the Inferred Category (see press release dated March 2, 2017). The PFS is scheduled to be completed in September of 2017.
"We are eager to increase the confidence around the economic model to develop our graphite property in Quebec, Canada," commented Eric Desaulniers, President and CEO of Nouveau Monde. "Since we completed our PEA we have done extensive work to further define and increase our resource estimate. Equally important, we have added key management with critical real world graphite mine operation experience. One such individual is our CFO Charles-Olivier Tarte. Charles was previously the Natural Graphite Financial Controller for Imerys Graphite & Carbon, overseeing the financial management of the Lac-des-Îles (QC) natural graphite mine, the Terrebonne (QC) second transformation plant & the Westlake (OH) Americas sales office. Charles will lead Nouveau Monde's efforts on the PFS and work closely with our consultants to ensure his knowledge of operating graphite mines in Quebec is reflected in our PFS. I am keen to publish the results of our PFS in September."
Metallurgy Optimization Program
In addition, Nouveau Monde is pleased to announce the results of a metallurgy optimization program, which provides an updated and simplified process flowsheet. These improvements to the flow sheet will be reflected in the upcoming PFS. Highlights of the optimization program include an overall recovery rate of 97.4 % at a combined concentrate grade of 97.3 % total carbon ("Ct") during locked cycle tests while improving upon previous flake size distribution. It is important to note that locked cycle tests simulate a commercial operation as opposed to previous open circuit tests, performed for the Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA"), which provides a gross estimate of concentrate parameters. Flake size distribution is a critical and key advantage of Nouveau Monde as it allows the company to pursue multiple industrial markets for graphite (including steel making) as well as the ever growing lithium ion battery market.
Moreover, variability flotation tests confirmed the homogeneity of the mineralization within the West Zone deposit and obtained a low standard deviation of the concentrate grade of 1% Ct.
Locked Cycle Test Results
The recovery rate from the 2017 optimization program was obtained from a Master Composite consisting of 125 core subsamples from the West Zone deposit. This Master Composite underwent locked cycled tests to simulate closed circuit operation. Samples were chosen based on a graphite grade histogram of the West Zone in order to provide a representative sample and also took into account the spatial distribution of the sub-samples to represent the entire West Zone. The Master Composite sample returned a head grade of 4.42% Ct. Flake size distribution from the locked cycle tests is detailed in Table 1 below and compared to the previous tests performed in 2016 which were used as input data for the PEA (see press release dated June 22, 2016). It should be noted that a reduced concentrate grade target of 96% Ct was established for the 2017 metallurgical program based on the results of a marketing study. As a result, the optimization program delivered a simplified flowsheet with lower CAPEX and OPEX and reduced flake degradation while still maintaining a combined concentrate grade of 97.3% Ct.
Table 1. Mass and Grade Distribution of Graphite Concentrate from the West Zone
|2017 Optimization Program2||2016 Metallurgy Test Program3|
|Flake Size||Mass (%)||% Ct1||Flake Size||Mass (%)||% Ct1|
|+48 mesh||16.5||97.1||+48 mesh||16.1||97.5|
|-48/+80 mesh||31.6||96.9||-48/+80 mesh||29.8||97.6|
|-80/+100 mesh||11.6||96.9||-80/+100 mesh||11.1||97.4|
|-100 mesh||40.2||97.7||-100 mesh||42.9||96.4|
|Recovery Rate||97.4||97.3||Recovery Rate3||89.5||97.3|
|1||Total carbon measured by LECO SC632.|
|2||Locked cycle test.|
|3||Open cycle test.|
Metallurgy Variability Tests
Variability tests were also performed as part of the 2017 optimization program. They confirmed the homogeneity of the mineralization within the West Zone deposit. The West Zone deposit was divided longitudinally in four equal portions which were then separated vertically using the top 75 m and bottom 75 m of the deposit. A total of 362 core subsamples were chosen to represent these eight (8) portions of the deposit. The resulting eight (8) Variability Composite samples (composed of approximately 45 subsamples each) were subjected to the same flowsheet and conditions to analyse concentrate purity and flake size variations within the deposit. Note that the test conditions did not reflect the final optimized flowsheet and conditions that were chosen for the locked cycle test. Results from the variability tests are available in Table 2.
Table 2. Flake Size Distribution and Results of Variability Samples from the West Zone1
|Variability Composite Samples||Parameters||Flake Size1||Head2 Grade (Ct %)|
|+48 mesh||-48/+80 mesh||-80/+100 mesh||-100 mesh|
|Top North||Mass (%)||20.9||32.1||10.4||36.7||94.3|
|Bottom North||Mass (%)||21.1||32.3||10.4||36.2||96.6|
|Top North Center||Mass (%)||17.6||33.3||11.5||37.6||95.1|
|Bottom North Center||Mass (%)||17.3||32.1||11.0||39.7||97.5|
|Top South Center||Mass (%)||11.6||30.5||12.7||45.2||95.1|
|Bottom South Center||Mass (%)||13.9||29.7||11.9||44.5||96.2|
|Top South||Mass (%)||13.7||31.8||11.9||42.7||94.2|
|Bottom South||Mass (%)||16.3||33.4||11.1||39.2||96.5|
|1||The variability tests were performed to analyze flake size and concentrate purity variations within the deposit. They were not designed to provide the flake size distribution of the deposit and therefore cannot be compared to the tests detailed in Table 1 which used a different process flowsheet.|
|2||Total carbon measured by LECO SC632|
Éric Desaulniers, President and CEO of Nouveau Monde stated "The excellent flake size distribution and purity of our graphite concentrate should reflect very positively on the pricing of our product and allow us to pursue multiple markets, diversifying our product portfolio and customer base. Furthermore, these competitive characteristics make it ideal for value-added product manufacturing which can command higher premiums for graphite. The impressive recovery rates from our recent locked cycle tests as well as the remarkable homogeneity of the mineralization speak highly about the quality of our deposit."
In 2015, Nouveau Monde discovered a graphite deposit on its Tony claim block, part of its fully owned Matawinie graphite Property. This discovery resulted in the publishing of a Preliminary Economic Assessment, completed according to NI 43-101 guidelines, in June of 2016. This study demonstrated strong economics with a planned production of 50,000 tpy of high purity flake graphite over a period of 25.7 years which is expected to provide a solid operational margin and relatively low capital expenditures (see press release dated June 22, 2016). The Mineral Resource Estimate has since been updated, the current resource stands at 32.9 Mt grading 4.50% Cg for the Indicated Category and 0.2 Mt grading 4.84 % Cg in the Inferred Category (see Press Release dated March 2, 2017). The project is located in the Saint-Michel-des-Saints area, some 120 km north of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It has direct access to all needed infrastructure, labour as well as green and affordable hydroelectricity. Nouveau Monde is developing its project with the highest corporate social responsibility standards while targeting a low environmental footprint (targeting a net zero carbon emission operation).
The technical information presented in this news release was prepared by Oliver Peters, MSc, P.Eng, MBA, Consulting Metallurgist for SGS and Principal Metallurgist of Metpro Management Inc., an independent Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.