"With provincial and federal support for critical minerals, Québec is the place to be in the lithium space, and Sayona has the potential to be a leader in North America with over 30% of total hard rock lithium resources on the continent."
After having been recently appointed CEO, what is your vision to take the firm forward?
I joined Sayona in September 2022 and was President of the Abitibi Témiscamingue hub. I worked on the preparation of our North American Lithium (NAL) asset in Québec, and since January 1st, I have had the immense privilege to be the CEO of Sayona. I could not think of a better place to be in the world than Québec in terms of growth opportunities, and 2023 will be pivotal for us. Going forward, we will continue to grow resources in Abitibi and James Bay and unveil the potential of the Moblan world-class deposit. With provincial and federal support for critical minerals, Québec is the place to be in the lithium space, and Sayona has the potential to be a leader in North America with over 30% of total hard rock lithium resources on the continent. Going forward, we are going downstream. We currently have a study to produce carbonate, which is our long-term objective by 2026. We want to be fully vertically integrated and produce battery-grade material with lithium from here.
What are the latest operational updates at NAL?
We successfully started the NAL operation in March and are currently in a ramp-up phase. We are aiming at producing 226,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate (SC6). It is going very well; our team has safely managed the procedure. We produced about 24,000 t already, so are ahead of expectations. Regarding spodumene, we are the major concentrate producer in North America, and the first shipment is scheduled to take place in July. Our partners Piedmont Lithium have secured an agreement with LG and Tesla. After the second transformation in Abitibi we will produce carbonate lithium; we will then be fully integrated from the mine to battery material right here in La Corne.
Can you expand on your other exploration activities at Authier and Moblan?
We determined that Authier has the potential to be a C$2 billion business and are currently deploying a huge exploration program right in the pit and outside. In the James Bay hub, at Moblan, we unveiled the first resources in April. We grew the resources from 14 to close to 50 million t. On top of that, we started a very aggressive diamond drilling exploration program there.
What were the reasons behind your successful transition from a developer to a lithium producer?
We have been very successful to attract and retain talent in the Abitibi. 90% of our workforce is from local communities, and 30% of the workforce is female, so we are proud of our diverse workforce. Technology and ESG are at the heart of our actions. With the scarcity of labor, we need to find ways to remove workers from hazardous areas, which is where technology and automation became key.
We continue to fight climate change and are committed to ensuring our projects are a source of pride for host communities.
Could Québec become a lithium hotspot globally?
I strongly believe that Québec could become one of the major lithium hubs in the world. Here, we have a unique combination of resources, a supportive regulatory environment, a talented workforce, and a great position within the North American market. We have clean energy with hydroelectricity, we have universities, talent, and power to become a world leader as a lithium producer. With hydropower, we can produce the lower carbon equivalent lithium on the planet, and this is something we can be proud of in Québec. Sayona will be a leader in the battery value chain for the years to come and committed to the province of Québec that NAL would go downstream.
What makes Sayona a compelling investment story?
There is a world race for Québec’s lithium. We own a solid base of the resource there, drawing the world’s attention. This year’s objectives are orientated to organic growth through aggressive exploration programs in both regions, James Bay, and Abitibi. We have the most expansive exploration program in the province, and the future is bright for Sayona in Québec. Looking ahead, speed to the market and tons of volume will set us apart.