June 16, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Hydro-Québec can move into an agricultural zone to connect Nouveau Monde Graphite

Hydro-Québec can move into an agricultural zone to connect Nouveau Monde Graphite

Hydro-Québec has finally received the greenlight to build part of a high-voltage line in an agricultural zone that will power the Nouveau Monde Graphite mine, which it still hopes will become the world's first 100% electric open-pit mine.

After refusing to allow a high-voltage line to cross an agricultural area in Saint-Jean, Quebec's Agricultural Territory of Protection (CPTAQ) commission reverses its decision and cuts the pier in two.

In a decision handed down on Monday, CPTAQ will allow the 120 kilovolt line – which supplies the Nouveau Monde graphite mine in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Lanaudière – to pass through arable land, even if the route “appears to be one with minimal impact on agriculture.

In turn, the state company has to compensate for territorial losses. She shall clear and plant an equivalent grassland on the land in question, we read in the final decision.

Last year, the commission presented the region as “unique and fragile as it lies in the middle of a sea of ​​non-agricultural land”. Hydro-Québec, for its part, argued that it would have to go through an agricultural environment to avoid crossing “a large wetland, watercourse and floodplain” or “being forced to move a high line in the mountains. The landscape would be more affected,” we read in the CPTAQ documents.

The Union of Agricultural Producers prefers to pass the line outside arable land. “Hydro-Québec has not demonstrated to us, and until proven so, that it is absolutely impossible to install the entire line outside the agricultural zone,” the union's Lanadier division wrote in a notice sent to CPTAQ.

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For its part, Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) welcomed the decision. “On our part, it is on schedule for connection [de la mine en 2026]. So that's great news,” says Julie Pockett, vice president of communications at NMG.

Overall, the NMG project has two components. In addition to the graphite mine, a plant to convert the ore into anode material for electric vehicles is planned at Beconcore.

“We are waiting to attach the factory financing to Beconcore by financing both at once before starting construction at full speed,” she said, referring to the installations needed for the mine's operations, the initial deforestation and the access road in Saint-Michel-des-Saints.

Financing for the project — estimated at $1.5 billion — has yet to be finalized, with major investments announced last winter. In February, General Motors and Panasonic confirmed investments in NMG and committed to buy part of the production. The two companies together hold 22.22% stake in the company.

When asked about the claim of being the world's first 100% electric mine, Mme Pocket is optimistic: “Yes, we think we can still be. »

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