PROJECT LOCATION

The Rose property is located in northern Québec’s administrative region, on the territory of Eeyou Istchee James Bay. It is located on Category III land, on the Traditional Lands of the Eastmain Community, approximately 40 kilometers north of the Cree village of Nemaska located approximately 300 km north-west of Chibougamau.

The Rose property is accessible by road via the Route du Nord, usable all year round from Chibougamau. The mine site can also be reached by Matagami, via Route 109 and Route du Nord.

 

> Watch Rose Lithium-Tantalum Project Life Cycle

  • The Nemiscau airport services the regions air travel needs.
  • The Rose property site is located 50 km by road from the Nemiscau airport.
  • 80 km south of Goldcorp’s Éléonore gold mine
  • 45 km north-west of Nemaska’s Whabouchi lithium project
  • 20 km south of Hydro Québec’s Eastmain 1 hydroelectricity generating plant.

The Rose property comprises 473 claims spread over a 24,654-ha area. Geologically, the Rose property is located at the north-east end of the Archean Lake Superior Province of the Canadian Shield.

PROJECT SUMMARY

Average annual production

  • 173,317 tonnes of chemical grade 5.5% spodumene concentrate.
  • 51,369 tonnes of technical grade 6.0% spodumene concentrate.
  • 441 tonnes of tantalum concentrate.

Expected life of mine of 17 years.

Average operating costs

  • US$74.48 per tonne milled, US$540 per tonne of concentrate (all concentrate production combined).
  • Estimated initial capital cost $US$357 million before working capital.
  • 100% equity basis for project.
  • Average gross margin 68.3%


After-tax NPV of US$1,915 million (at 8% discount rate), after-tax IRR of 82.4% and average price assumptions of US$1,852 per tonne chemical grade lithium concentrate, US$4,039 per tonne technical grade lithium concentrate, US$130 per kg tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5).

Anticipated construction time to start of production of 21 months

The Corporation’s market strategy is to enter the lithium market with a low-risk approach. The completion of the feasibility on the spodumene plant is the first step to enter the market and establish the Corporation as a reliable high quality lithium supplier. The low-risk approach is characterized by simple open-pit mining and conventional lithium processing technologies.

The Project will produce technical grade spodumene concentrate for the glass and ceramics industry and chemical grade spodumene concentrate for conversion for use in batteries for e-mobility, as well as a tantalite concentrate.

The mine will excavate a total of 26.3M tonnes ore grading an average of 0.87% Li2O and 138 ppm Ta2O5 after dilution. The mill will process 1.61M tonnes of ore per year to produce an annual average of 224,686 tonnes of technical and chemical grade spodumene concentrates and 441 tonnes of tantalite concentrate.

The ore is contained in several parallel and continuous shallow dipping pegmatite dykes outcropping on surface. The ore zones are open at depth and a future underground operation is possible.

Over the life of mine, the open pit will excavate a total of 182.4M tonnes of waste rock and 10.9 M tonnes of overburden. The average strip ratio is 7.3 tonnes of waste per tonne of ore.

MINING OPERATIONS

OPEN PIT MINING RATE OF 1,610,000 TPY

SPODUMENE PROCESS PLANT WITH A 4,600 TPD NOMINAL CAPACITY

A conventional truck and shovel open-pit approach was considered to mine the Rose Lithium-Tantalum Project’s Probable Mineral Reserves. The dimensions of the engineered pit design are approximately 1,620m long x 900m wide x 220m deep.

The life of mine plan (LOM) proposes to mine 26.3 Mt of ore, 182.4 Mt of waste, and 10.9 Mt of overburden for a total of 219.6 Mt of material. The average stripping ratio is 7.3 tonnes of waste per tonne of ore. The nominal production rate is estimated at 4,600 tonnes per day and 350 operating days per year.

The mining operation production rate is set to approximately 15 Mt of material per year. An open pit mining schedule was planned and resulted in a mine life of 17 years.

Contract mining will be used for the removal of the overburden while Critical Elements will undertake the mining of all hard rock material with its own equipment fleet and operators.

The main production fleet will consist of one (1) backhoe excavator, one (1) electric front shovel, one (1) wheel loader, seven (7) haul trucks (65t), seven (7) haul trucks (135t), two (2) rotary drills, one (1) DTH drill, two (2) bulldozers, one (1) wheel dozer, two (2) graders, one (1) auxiliary excavator, one (1) auxiliary wheel loader, and two (2) water trucks.

The Rose project pit was designed with a 10m single benching arrangement. A 57° inter-ramp angle and an overall pit slope angle of 55° were utilized for the ultimate pit design. A berm width of 7.0m corresponding to the recommended overall slope angle was used. The pit slopes in overburden have a face ratio of 2.5:1 with a 10m berm width.

The main in-pit haulage ramp is designed at 30.9m wide to allow a double-lane traffic, except for the last benches at the pit bottom that are designed at 20.4m wide for single lane traffic. A 2m drainage ditch is included to allow for water drainage and pipe installation. The maximum gradient of the inner curvature of all ramp segments is 10%.

Rose Pit Side View Looking West

Rose Pit Side View Looking West

Rose Pit Side View

Rose Pit Side View

MINERAL PROCESSING

A standard froth flotation process will be utilized to produce technical grade and chemical grade lithium concentrates and a tantalum concentrate. The mineral process plant will consist of crushing, beneficiation, and dewatering areas.

  • The technical grade lithium concentrate will grade 6.0% Li2O
  • The chemical grade lithium concentrate will grade 5.5% Li2O.
  • The tantalum concentrate will grade 20% Ta2O5.

The beneficiation process includes crushing, grinding, magnetic separation and flotation. The crushing circuit will consist of a jaw crusher and two (secondary and tertiary) cone crushers, and screens. The crushed ore will have a P80 of 13 mm and will be stockpiled in a 9,200-tonne capacity dome; this is sufficient for approximately two days of mill operation. The grinding circuit will consist of a ball mill operating in a closed circuit and a two-stage cyclone cluster. The tantalum will first be recovered at a grade of 2.0% Ta2O5 by high intensity magnetic separation then upgraded further to 20.0% Ta2O5 by gravity separation.  The lithium flotation circuit will include removal of slimes after magnetic separation followed by mica flotation, scrubbing, and spodumene flotation to the required grade. The lithium flotation circuit will remove slimes, separate mica, and purify the lithium to the required grade. The spodumene concentrate will then be thickened, vacuum filtered, dried to 1% moisture, and stored in 1500-tonne silo from where it can be bulk loaded into trucks. The tailings will be thickened, vacuum filtered to 15% moisture or less, and trucked to the waste rock / tailings piles where it will be dry stacked.

  • The spodumene plant will operate 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and 52 weeks per year.
  • The process plant was designed with an operating availability of 90%.
  • The crushing circuit was designed using an operating availability of 50%.
  • The concentrator capacity has been established at a nominal throughput rate of 4 900 dry tonnes per day.
  • The plant has a capacity of 1,610,000 per year.

 

Mineral Processing

 

The Feasibility Study assumes 87.3% and 90% recovery for technical and chemical grade lithium concentrates respectively and 40% minimum recovery for the tantalum concentrate. Process water will be recycled releasing minimal amounts to the equalization pond and final effluent treatment plant.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Electricity will be provided by Hydro-Québec. A 315 kV electrical transport line (L3176), owned by HydroQuébec, runs North-South over the eastern side of the Rose Property. It runs over the planned open pit. The portion running over the open pit representing 4.2 km will be rerouted to allow open pit operation.

The power demand for the project has been estimated at about 13,486 kW (15,615 kVA) and a reserve of up to 20 MVA has been accepted by Hydro-Québec. Two 15 MW transformers will operate at the same time to feed the site and the processing plant. The transformers will feed the 25 kV mine site electrical network. Power lines are necessary to feed the processing plant, the industrial pad, the final water treatment plant, the open pit and wells, the pumps at the waste rock / dry tailings water collecting ponds, and the explosives and detonator storage facilities. A total of 15.5 km of power lines are planned.

The Project infrastructure includes site main access, services and haulage roads, explosive and detonator storage, a spodumene processing plant, a  maintenance facility, a warehouse, diesel and gasoline storage, LNG storage and distribution, ore stockpile pad, waste rock and dry tailings stockpile, overburden stockpile, main electrical substation and distribution, fresh and potable water supply, sewage, surface water management, final effluent treatment, communication system, gate house, and an administrative building.

Waste rock and tailings samples were analyzed at the SGS Canada’s laboratory in Lakefield and both were found to be non-acid generating. The dry tailings and the waste rock will be stored in the same facility which has sufficient capacity for the life of mine. Rain and snow melt water will be collected in ditches and pumped to the water treatment plant.

The industrial pad has an area of 296,000 m2 and will contain the process plant, the maintenance facility, warehouse, administration building, diesel and gasoline storage tanks, LNG storage and distribution, and all associated services. LNG will be used for buildings heating and for the drying of the lithium and tantalum concentrates.  The ore pad will have a 3.9M tonne capacity where low-grade material may be stored.

The hydrology study has suggested that water inflow to the open pit is to be expected. In order to maximize pit slopes, water wells will be constructed around the pit periphery to lower the water table below the pit floor. One of these wells will be used to supply the mine site with fresh water. Water from the other wells will be directed to sedimentation ponds and treated, if necessary, before being released to the final effluent.

Water from the waste rock / dry tailings stockpile, the open pit, the industrial pad, the overburden stockpile and the roads will be collected in an equalization pond and treated before being released as final effluent.

The mine site will have a 2.7 km main access road from the Eastmain 1 road to the industrial pad.  Including the service roads, the site will total 15.8 km of roads.

PROJECT ECONOMICS

AFTER-TAX NPV AT 8% OF US$1.9 B AND AN AFTER-TAX IRR OF 82.4%

The mine will excavate a total of 26.3M tonnes ore grading an average of 0.87% Li2O and 138 ppm Ta2O5 after dilution over a period of 17 years.

2022-06-13
Critical Elements Announces a Positive Feasibility Study for the Rose Lithium Project Generating an After-Tax NPV at 8% of US$1.9 B and an After-Tax IRR of 82.4%

ECONOMICS 1,2,3UnitsValue
Initial Capital Cost Estimate$M357
After-Tax Cash Flow$M3,352
After-Tax NPV 8%$M1,915
After-Tax IRR%82.4
After-Tax Payback PeriodYears1.4
Average operating costs of US$74.48 per tonne milled, US$540 per tonne of concentrate (all concentrate production combined)
  1. 173,317 tonnes of chemical grade 5.5% spodumene concentrate
  2. 51,369 tonnes of technical grade 6.0% spodumene concentrate
  3. 441 tonnes of tantalum concentrate

Operating Costs

The operating costs are estimated at US$74.48 per tonne of ore processed which include:

  • Mining US$29.17 per tonne processed
  • Processing US$15.31 per tonne processed
  • G&A US$15.63 per tonne processed
  • Concentrate transportation US$14.37 per tonne processed

The total operating costs are estimated at US$550/tonne of concentrate after Tantalite Credit.

Energy unit costs are CA$0.06 per kWh for electricity, CA$1.70 per litre for diesel, and CA$0.935 per m3 for LNG.

Capital Costs

The capital and operating costs were estimated in Canadian dollars. An economic analysis was conducted with a discounted cash-flow before and after tax. The initial capital cost is estimated at US$357 M including all infrastructures described earlier with a 10% contingency. The sustaining capital is estimated at US$126 M over the life of mine.

The total payable products are estimated at 2,797,668 tonnes of chemical grade 5.5% Li2O concentrate, 829,198 tonnes of technical grade 6.0% Li2O concentrate, and 7,264 tonnes of 20% Ta2O5 concentrate.