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Sayona, Piedmont approve North American Lithium project restart in Quebec

Drilling continues at the Authier deposit as it nears production. Credit: Sayona Mining

Sayona Quebec has formally approved the restart of spodumene concentrate production at the North American Lithium (NAL) project near La Corne, Quebec. Sayona Quebec is 75% owned by Australian Sayona Mining (ASX: SYA) and 25% by Piedmont Lithium, a private company.

The upgrade and restart budget is approximately C$98 million. Sayona recently raised C$173 million to fund plant and infrastructure upgrades aimed at improving product quality, recovery and plant availability.

Key personnel have been recruited, long-lead time equipment has been ordered, detailed engineering work is moving forward, and almost all the required regulatory approvals have been received. The concentrator commissioning is on track with first production planned for the first quarter 2023.

The NAL project was originally developed by Quebec Lithium (later RB Energy) between 2012 and 2014, but it ran out of funds. The subsequent owner, North American Lithium, actually mined the deposit in 2017, but ran into trouble with its attempt at flotation of the ore.

After North American Lithium filed for creditor protection, Sayona paid C$46.7 million for the NAL project and nearby Authier carbonate project.

Mining will take place using conventional open pit methods at the Authier site 70 km from the concentrator. Sayona expects to produce about 115,000 tonnes of spodumene (6% lithium oxide) concentrate annually for 27 years.

Proven and probable reserves for NAL total 29.2 million tonnes grading 0.96% LiO2 and containing 280,300 tonnes of lithium oxide.

“We are delighted to put the seal on our plan to launch North America’s first local spodumene concentrate production, amid growing demand from both Canada and the United States for local and sustainable sources of this key battery metal,” said Sayona’s managing director Brett Lynch.

“Our team in Quebec has hit the ground running since our official takeover of the operation in August 2021. Progress to date has been excellent,” he added.

Sayona is also drilling its Tansim and Moblan lithium properties in Quebec. Both are returning high grade results. The company announced earlier this week that it has drilled multiple new spodumene pegmatites at Moblan, Moblan South, South East extension, and Moleon.

Sayona and Piedmont are engaged in discussions with the Quebec government to create a lithium hub for the Abitibi region. This would facilitate downstream processing.