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Critical Elements gets Quebec’s environmental nod for Rose lithium-tantalum project

GoldSpot AI to look for lithium, tantalum targets in Quebec
Credit: Critical Elements Corp.

Critical Elements Lithium (TSXV: CRE) announced Wednesday it has received the certificate of authorization (CA) pursuant to section 164 of Quebec’s Environment Quality Act for its Rose lithium-tantalum project. The CA was issued by the Quebec Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parcs.

The issuance of the CA represents an important milestone that would allow Critical Elements to advance project financing discussions to start mine construction following the issuance of the mining lease by the Quebec Minister of Natural Resources and Forests (MNRF).

The company was granted a positive federal decision on August 11, 2021, and has now obtained all main environmental authorizations enabling it to move forward with the Rose project. It also received the approval of the rehabilitation and restoration plan by the MNRF on May 13, 2022.

“We are excited about the prospect of moving forward with our plans in the James Bay Eeyou Istchee region. Rose is an important project within the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory, and I would like to thank all parties involved and especially all the Eeyou Istchee Cree Nation for their dedication and hard work over the past 10 years to achieve this milestone,” CEO Jean-Sébastien Lavallée said in a media release.

The Rose property is located in northern Quebec’s administrative region on the territory of Eeyou Istchee James Bay. The entire property covers over 24,600 hectares of land, geologically located northeast end of the Archean Lake Superior Province of the Canadian Shield.

As its first project to be advanced for spodumene production, Critical Elements has decided on a low-risk approach characterized by simple open-pit mining and conventional lithium processing technologies at the Rose project.

A new feasibility study released earlier this year envisioned a 17-year operation that will excavate a total of 26.3 million tonnes of ore grading 0.87% Li2O (lithium oxide) and 138 ppm Ta2O5 (tantalum pentoxide). These mineral reserves, all categorized as probable, are estimated from 17 mineralized zones on the Rose property.

Each year, the proposed mill will process 1.61 million tonnes of ore to produce an annual average of 224,686 tonnes of technical and chemical grade spodumene concentrates, plus 441 tonnes of tantalite concentrate.

The study pegs the lithium mining operation at an after-tax net present value of over $1.91 billion (at 8% discount rate) with an internal rate of return of 82.4%. The initial capital cost is estimated at $357 million. Variable costs include average operating costs of $74.48/t milled and $540/t concentrate (all concentrate production combined).

It is anticipated that construction of the mine will take about 21 months. The Rose property is currently accessible by road via the Route du Nord, usable all year round from Chibougamau, and is surrounded by existing mine operations and infrastructure.

Shares of Critical Elements Lithium jumped 8.7% to C$2.18 by noon ET on the TSX Venture Exchange, having hit a new 52-week high of C$2.39 earlier. The lithium miner has a market capitalization of C$457.2 million ($335.2m).