The mining company confirmed that engineering work has already commenced; it is eyeing the end of the December quarter for priority activities such as the process review, a Class 2 estimate, and a risk and opportunity assessment to optimise infrastructure design.
Nouveau Monde president and CEO Eric Desaulniers noted that the companies will carry out the entire project in virtual design and construction (VDC), which will give it an integrated, dynamic model of the concentrator's building information modeling (BIM) engineering.
"This innovative platform will facilitate the transfer from engineering to construction and then to operation," Desaulniers said. "NMG's master team … will act as experts to validate the engineering, the procurement strategy and the technical specifications for the equipment."
Matawinie's engineering work will also be able to utilise the process optimisations that were initially identified in the demonstration plant phase. That plant, now operational for one year, as so far produced ‘a few hundred tonnes', the executive said, and has demonstrated ‘exceptional ore quality' - achieving an average graphite purity of 97%, up to 99% for the largest flakes.
The production at the facility is separated into several granulometric categories: flakes of more than 0.3 millimetres (+50 mesh) to the finest products of less than 0.1 millimetres (-150 mesh), of which the company said it will supply potential customers samples to allow for their own testing of the concentrate.
"Nouveau Monde's mining project has really taken off in recent months now that we have a solid foundation for our Matawinie graphite project," Desaulniers said.
"Our demonstration plant has validated the effectiveness of our treatment process, which is now being optimised by our team of experts in anticipation of the commercial plant. Next year promises more achievements as we complete the design of our operation, reserve key equipment and crystallise our customer base."
Nouveau Monde has called Matawinie the largest graphite operation in the western world.