Québec invests $130 million in Nemaska Lithium’s Whabouchi project
QUÉBEC CITY, May 30, 2018 – The Government of Québec is investing $80 million in Nemaska Lithium share capital, and Ressources Québec is purchasing $50 million in bonds with its own funds, as part of a total of $1.1 billion in funding to commission a spodumene (lithium ore) mine in Nemaska, 300 km north of Chibougamau, in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory. A commercial lithium hydroxide and carbonate production facility will also be built in Shawinigan, in Mauricie.
Construction and commissioning of the mine is expected to be completed within 15 months and the commercial production plant is expected to start operating in approximately 24 months. Some 300 specialized direct jobs will be created for the operations of these two sites. Nearly 1,000 people will be at work during the construction period. Following this investment, Ressources Québec, acting as an agent of the government, will have increased its investment in Nemaska Lithium capital to nearly 13%.
The investment is in the form of the purchase of 80 million common shares of Nemaska Lithium, amounting to $80 million, through the Capital Mines Hydrocarbures fund. In addition, Ressources Québec, a subsidiary of Investissement Québec, used $50 million from its own funds to buy guaranteed and callable bonds.
The spodumene ore from the Whabouchi mine will be processed into value-added lithium salts (lithium hydroxide and carbonate), to then be sold mainly to cathode manufacturers for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. One of these suppliers is located in the Montréal area, which could lead to the entire value chain being located in Québec. Nemaska Lithium will use an innovative, patented electrochemical process to produce lithium salts by membrane electrolysis, which generates high-purity products. Moreover, this innovative electrochemical process, which is more effective and more economical than the traditional manufacturing process, will use Québec hydroelectricity, further reducing the finished product’s environmental footprint compared to its competitors.
Thanks to Nemaska Lithium’s innovation, this project will have a major structuring effect because it will promote access to lithium products for manufacturing businesses that are specialized in producing batteries for electric vehicles. By developing technologies related to transportation electrification, the company falls in line with the guidelines set out by the 2015-2020 Transportation Electrification Action Plan, which aims, in particular, to reduce the transportation sector’s carbon footprint. The government continues to accelerate its major shift to support the sustainable development of our economy and to fight climate change.
– Dominique Anglade, Deputy Premier, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation and Minister responsible for the Digital Strategy
The current upswing foreshadows good years for the Québec mining industry, and there is no better time to invest in this sector than now. The Nemaska Lithium project is part of the government’s willingness to encourage growth in the Plan Nord territory by developing the mining industry, as defined within the framework of the Plan Nord and in the Strategic Vision for Mining Development in Québec, while also promoting natural resource development and processing.
– Pierre Moreau, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister responsible for the Plan Nord and Minister responsible for the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region
With the Capital Mines Hydrocarbures fund, our government is reaffirming its willingness to encourage the development of natural resources responsibly for the benefit of all Quebecers. In recent years, the Mauricie region has committed to an economic diversification movement. As a result, this project is great news for the city of Shawinigan, since building the plant will lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs here in Mauricie. I am truly happy for the workers and their families.
– Julie Boulet, MNA for Laviolette, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Mauricie region
The Nord-du-Québec region, which is at the forefront of investments for exploring and developing mineral deposits, represents the highest exploration and development potential in Québec. Commissioning the Whabouchi mine will result in significant economic benefits, since it will lead to 200 jobs being created. Not to mention that this project will give Québec’s next generations—which include many young Indigenous people—the opportunity to develop expertise in this key sector of the economy.
– Jean Boucher, MNA for Ungava and Parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks
This investment fits in perfectly with Ressources Québec’s strategy, which aims to encourage the development of a key sector for the future. With Nemaska Lithium, we are supporting a growth opportunity for the Québec electric vehicle sector, an industry that generates positive and sustainable economic benefits for all of Québec.
– Pierre Gabriel Côté, President and CEO of Investissement Québec
- Founded in 2007, Nemaska Lithium is a developing company whose activities will be vertically integrated, from spodumene mining to the commercialization of high-purity lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate. Its head office is located in Québec City, although its activities take place in Shawinigan and at the Whabouchi mine in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory.
- Lithium is a metal used mainly in batteries, ceramics, glass and lubricants. Global demand is currently very high, especially for mobile devices and electric vehicles.
- With a budget of $1 billion, the Capital Mines Hydrocarbures fund can, through the purchase of equity, support dynamic businesses that mine minerals on State land. Some $500 million is reserved for equity participation as part of projects located in the Plan Nord territory. Another $500 million is dedicated to equity participation for projects located throughout Québec.
- As a subsidiary of Investissement Québec, Ressources Québec is the gateway for companies seeking to invest in the mining and hydrocarbon industries. Ressources Québec supports companies at every stage of their projects, from exploration and development through to processing. It offers a full range of financial products, including investments in share capital, debentures and various types of loans. Ressources Québec focuses on projects that have good return prospects and foster Québec’s economic development. Its role is complementary to that of private funders.