Nemaska Lithium gets go ahead for its Whabouchi mine in Quebec

Nemaska Lithium gets go ahead for its Whabouchi mine in QuebecCanadian junior Nemaska Lithium (TSX-V:NMX) has overcome the last hurdle to go ahead with its Quebec Whabouchi project, after receiving a positive federal environmental assessment decision from the Minister of Environment of Canada.

The resolution allows the company to pursue project financing discussions to start building the mine, located in the James Bay region, one of the two lithium districts in Quebec, the firm said in a statement.

Nemaska intends to construct, operate and decommission an open-pit surface and underground spodumene mine for the purpose of producing lithium, highly used in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries for cell phones and electric cars.

The project includes a waste and tailings impoundment area, an ore concentrator, administrative and maintenance buildings.

The Whabouchi mine would have a production capacity of approximately 3,000 tonnes per day over an estimated mine life of 26 years.

The company highlighted that the Cree and Jamesians communities of northwestern Quebec have supported the project since first proposed.

As the project proceeds to the next phase, it will continue to be subject to Canada's strong environmental laws, rigorous enforcement and follow-up, and fines for non-compliance, said the Minister of Environment.

Growing market

So far the two major lithium producers are Australia and Chile, with the former ranked just ahead of the copper producing country as the world’s number one source of the resource in 2014.

Last year, Australia produced 13,000 tonnes of lithium, with Chile producing 12,900t. Most of Australia’s supply comes from Western Australia, including from the world’s largest known lithium reserve, the Greenbushes project, which has been operational for more than 25 years.

The largest identified resources are in Chile and Bolivia, which between them hold over 40% of the planet’s known totals. Bolivia, however, has not opened up to any foreign mining companies, insisting instead that any lithium extracted there be processed within the country.