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The Whabouchi project in northern Quebec
New York-listed Livent on Thursday announced that it would invest in New Nemaska through a joint venture with investment manager Pallinghurst Group, with both companies set to equally own Quebec Lithium Partners (QLP).

QLP owns a 50% equity ownership in New Nemaska, which will continue the development of the Whabouchi project, in northern Quebec. The remaining 50% will be owned by Investissement Québec (IQ). Livent said that it believed New Nemaska owned one of the world’s most attractive lithium projects and that it was ideally positioned to meet the growing demand for a reliable high-grade supply of lithium chemicals in North America and Europe.

Livent had a 8 000 t/y supply agreement with the previous owner of Whabouchi, junior Nemaska Lithium, but that agreement was terminated in February 2019, after the companies failed to agree on a revised supply schedule.

Nemaska Lithium ran into financial trouble developing the mine and associated electrochemical plant, facing project cost overruns. The initial capital cost estimate for the Whabouchi mine and Shawinigan plant was C$874.4-million, but several months into construction, Nemaska Lithium announced that it needed an additional C$375-million.

Nemaska Lithium in December 2019 entered creditor protection and in August 2020 accepted a sale and proposal structured as a credit bid from Orion Mine Finance, IQ and Pallinghurst.

Over the life-of-mine, Whabouchi is expected to produce seven-million tonnes of spodumene concentrate, which will be converted into 770 000 t of battery-grade lithium hydroxide and 361 000 t of battery-grade lithium carbonate.