An expensive revival for Nemaska ​​Lithium

Revitalizing Nemaska ​​lithium – a key project in the battery sector – will cost more with a mine and processing plant project set to reach at least 1.5 billion. Quebec and its partner Livent are each injecting 80 million and will continue to loosen their purses.

Posted at 6:00 am

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

This new post, to be announced this Thursday, takes the money invested by the state of Quebec to 175 million as it owns half of the formerly bankrupt company. The Legault government planned to pay up to $300 million to allow Nemaska ​​lithium to rise from its ashes. Economy and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon is ready to go further.

“In November or December we will receive the final feasibility study,” he explained in a telephone interview. Will we inject more than 300 million in total? Maybe. Risky projects, don’t have too much debt. »


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister for Economy and Innovation

As of last May, Livent, a converted lithium supplier to Tesla and BMW, owns the other half of Nemaska ​​Lithium. The American company had acquired the stake of the London company Pallinghurst.

The latest round of financing aims to complete studies and pre-construction work. At the Bécancour industrial park, Nemaska ​​plans to produce lithium by converting the lithium extracted at the Whabouchi mine, about 300 kilometers from Baie-James, into lithium hydroxide, which will be used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

The site’s previous bill was estimated at 1.2 billion.

mid-decade

We are targeting 2025 for the plant and mine to start up, which would have an annual production of 32,300 tonnes of lithium hydroxide. After all, 410 people are supposed to work both in the plant and in the mine.

With the expected arrival of players like BASF and POSCO in Bécancour in the production of battery materials, there is pressure to restart Nemaska ​​Lithium, says Mr Fitzgibbon. Without the company’s facility, the lithium that would be mined from Quebec’s underground would be exported to be processed elsewhere.

GM/POSCO and BASF are already in talks with Nemaska. Cathode manufacturers naturally want a reliable source of supply. They want the funding and the project to move forward.

Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister for Economy and Innovation

Nemaska ​​Lithium had been in the spotlight after a financial meltdown due to a cost explosion. The bill for the project had risen from 875 million to more than 1.2 billion. The company was forced to protect itself from its creditors. Quebec, which was a party to the original financial arrangement, lost $71 million in the adventure.

In June 2021, the company’s shareholders had decided to leave Shawinigan, where the processing plant was to see the light of day, and turn to Bécancour, the privileged place for the development of the battery sector. Mr. Fitzgibbon realized at the time that the project had to be started “from scratch”.

According to the minister, the next financial contributions from Quebec and Livent are expected next spring. When the feasibility study is complete, the Nemaska ​​Lithium management team is expected to clarify. At the moment, according to Minister Fitzgibbon, the structure is a “project office”.

Learn more

  • 600 million
    Owners of Nemaska ​​Lithium, Quebec and Livent are said to be injecting at least 600 million into reviving the company.

    Source: GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC

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