Caterpillar to supply zero-exhaust emission fleet to graphite miner NMG; offtake agreement for anode material

On the foundation of their 2021 collaboration agreement and of technical work achieved together over the past two years, Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) and Caterpillar signed definitive agreements for Caterpillar to supply NMG’s Matawinie Mine with an integrated solution that covers a zero-exhaust emission fleet, supporting infrastructure, and service.

Caterpillar is set to be NMG’s supplier of heavy mining equipment, supporting the progressive transition from traditional models to Cat zero-exhaust emission machines as they become available. Moreover, NMG and Caterpillar have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) to advance commercial discussions targeting NMG’s active anode material.

Through this offtake MoU, a full circular value chain could be established whereas NMG would supply carbon-neutral graphite materials to Caterpillar for the development of its secure, resilient, and sustainable battery supply chain that would serve to electrify heavy vehicles, including NMG’s Matawinie fleet.

As part of the agreements, Caterpillar and NMG have mapped the development, and testing of equipment and infrastructure at the company’s Matawinie Mine in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Québec, Canada. Equipment in commercial production will be leveraged at first to support operations during the pre-production phase and early production years and are set to be progressively replaced with Cat zero-exhaust emission machines as they become available.

With the objective of having realized a complete all-electric transition by year 5 of Matawinie commercial operations, technical teams will work in close collaboration to test Caterpillar’s Early Learner models and pilot units and support technology development. NMG will make use of these machines in actual mining operations and gather data from on-site utilization in a variety of weather, terrain, and operational conditions. Feedback from NMG’s mining operations should help further advance the development of electrified machines and sites.

Depending on the commercialization of Cat zero-exhaust emission machines, Caterpillar will reserve production slots, which should enable the company to benefit from timely deliveries and technology enhancements throughout the duration of the contract. The agreements encompass machines such as hydraulic excavators, mining trucks, wheel loaders, dozers, and motor graders, as well as charging and energy storage infrastructure and equipment maintenance services.

NMG and Caterpillar’s Job Site Solutions have agreed on a novel solution to reduce NMG’s initial capital intensity for the Matawinie Mine. The solution provides access to equipment through an hourly fee based on usage and includes asset management support to help improve uptime, predictability, and efficiency. Caterpillar, together with Toromont Industries Ltd., an authorized Cat dealer, will manage the maintenance and repair strategy for the equipment to maximize machine availability. NMG will also have the opportunity to lease or acquire machines if desired, through Toromont.

Electrification has made tremendous progress across heavy-industry sectors in recent years, supported by active innovation and strong decarbonization commitments (International Energy Agency, May 2022). In 2022, Caterpillar unveiled its first prototype of a battery-powered large mining truck, demonstrating the most recent advancement in technology and the extent of electric solutions by operating fully loaded to its rated capacity. Through this next stage of their collaboration, Caterpillar intends to help NMG advance the company’s Net Zero objectives.

NMG’s Active Anode Material. The offtake MoU between NMG and Caterpillar targets NMG’s active anode material to be produced at the company’s Matawinie Mine and Bécancour Battery Material Plant.

Establishing a fully integrated and electrified production of natural graphite, from ore to battery materials, NMG’s solutions have demonstrated an industry-leading environmental footprint in a recent life cycle assessment. NMG’s planned all-electric operations powered by renewable energy combined with clean processing technologies are set to generate advanced materials with an exceptionally low climate change impact, in line with global decarbonization efforts.

Matawinie. NMG owns a 100% interest in the Matawinie graphite property located in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, 150 km north of Montréal, Québec. The mine and concentrator are to produce 103 ktpa of high-purity flake concentrate. NMG plans for Matawinie to become the world’s first all-electric open-pit mine for carbon-neutral operations, underpinned by renewable hydropower.

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