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Nemaska Lithium shares hit new low, says project shutdown “within weeks”

Nemaska Lithium’s Phase 1 demonstration plant

Canadian lithium developer Nemaska Lithium (TSX: NMX) said on Friday its Whabouchi project in Quebec would be put on care and maintenance before the end of the year, as financing discussions with investment firm Pallinghurst continue.

Montreal-based Nemaska said, “in the coming weeks, the Whabouchi site winterization and orderly demobilization will be completed”:

A small crew will conduct care and maintenance activities as well as ensuring site security. Detailed engineering will be pursued, at an adapted pace, to continue the development of project until financing is secured for both the Whabouchi mine and the Shawinigan plant.

“We continue working with Pallinghurst and our other strategic partners on completing an optimized project financing structure to be submitted to the shareholders’ approval as soon as possible,” said Guy Bourassa, president and CEO of Nemaska Lithium.

Nemaska said it also working to fulfill the last orders at the demonstration plant which has been in operation since February 2017 as well as preparing samples of lithium hydroxide to continue product qualification trials with potential end users.

As of August 31, it had incurred capital expenditure of C$392 million on a total project budget of C$1.27 billion.

The company said at the end of the September quarter it had on hand approximately $77 million in unrestricted cash and cash equivalents to finance its current activities, plus cash and cash equivalents of $40 million that it has agreed, for the moment, to maintain in a cost overrun account. 

Nemaska’s stock was trading down 8.6% by early afternoon on Friday with double usual volume of shares exchanging hands. At 16c per share, the decline since the start of the year is now 80%.

After peaking at $2.35 per share two years ago with a market value approaching $2 billion, the lithium developer is now worth C$128 million on the Toronto stock exchange.

Lithium hydroxide prices have fallen 21% this year, bringing the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence LiOH index to its lowest point since February 2016.