Nemaska Lithium Inc. [NMX-TSX; NMKEF-OTCQX; N0T-FSE] reported that the first shipment of lithium hydroxide solution (equivalent to 1.2 tonnes of lithium hydroxide monohydrate) is ready for delivery to a client for evaluation. The Phase 1 Plant is now in continuous production mode from lithium sulphate.
The company’s Whabouchi lithium-beryllium project is located 30 km east of Nemaska in the James Bay region of northern Québec 300 km northwest of Chibougamau. Nemaska Lithium has received a notice of allowance of a main patent application on its proprietary process to produce lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate. The company is pursuing patent protection on this process in multiple global jurisdictions.
In tandem, Nemaska is developing one of the richest spodumene hard rock lithium deposits in the world, both in volume and grade. Spodumene concentrate produced at Nemaska’s future lithium mine (Whabouchi) and from other global sources will be shipped to the company’s lithium hydroxide/carbonate processing plant to be located in Shawinigan, Quebec. This plant will transform spodumene concentrate into high purity lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate
Nemaska is currently producing lithium hydroxide on a continuous basis using lithium sulphate provided by a client. To do so, the company commissioned the purification and membrane electrolysis systems of the Phase 1 Plant. The lithium hydroxide produced to date is exceeding purification expectations of Nemaska’s technical team for this stage of plant commissioning. This is a critical achievement for Nemaska Lithium as the systems commissioned to date are covered by the majority of the patents filed or granted to Nemaska Lithium on its proprietary process. To date, the company’s proprietary process is performing at or above expectations.
The company intends to start processing spodumene concentrate from the Whabouchi Mine into lithium hydroxide samples in Q2 2017 after the commissioning of the calcination and roasting sections of the process. These samples will be sent to numerous potential customers globally.
Statistics from a 2016 Feasibility Study include a 26-year mine life; life-of-mine revenue of $9.2 billion; after-tax NPV (8% discount) of $1.16 billion; after-tax IRR of 30.3%; and payback of capital costs of 2.4 years. Selling price of lithium hydroxide: US $9,500/tonne FOB Shawnigan. Selling price for lithium carbonate: US $7,000/tonne FOB Shawnigan. Average cost/tonne spodumene concentrate: $181/tonne. Average cost/tonne lithium hydroxide: $2,693/tonne.