Left to right: Sylvain Collard (Sayona COO), Brett Lynch (Sayona Managing Director), Stan Bharti (Jourdan Director) and Rene Bharti (Jourdan CEO) at the NAL open pit mine

Emerging lithium producer Sayona Mining Ltd. said it has successfully produced the first spodumene (lithium) concentrate at its flagship North American Lithium (NAL) operation in Québec, Canada, marking another milestone for the operation’s restart.

Approximately 70 metric tons (mt) of lithium concentrate was produced. The company said commissioning is proceeding according to plan, with the first saleable concentrate to be produced shortly. NAL’s restart is proceeding on schedule and within budget, amid intensifying demand for the key battery metal from North America’s fast-growing EV and battery industry, Sayona’s Managing Director Brett Lynch explained.

The NAL operation will represent the most significant source of hard rock lithium production in North America, boosting Québec’s plans for the development of a local battery sector, from mining to manufacturing.

Congratulating the NAL team on its latest milestone, Lynch said “This is another great achievement for the team at NAL. I extend my thanks to everyone concerned for progressing the NAL restart on time and on budget – something few others have achieved in recent times amid escalating cost and supply chain pressures.”

Sayona expects the first shipment of spodumene (lithium) concentrate from NAL will occur in July 2023, with four shipments targeted for the first half of fiscal 2024. The company is targeting total production between 85,000 mt and 115,000 mt during this period.

In related news, PearTree Securities Inc. made a A$54.9 million ($36.3 million) equity investment in Sayona. The lithium miner said the funding will help advance exploration efforts.

NAL and Jourdan Resources Inc. have agreed to embark on an aggressive exploration and development program with the aim of expanding and defining sufficient mineral resources to supply increased tonnages to the NAL concentrator. More than 50,000 m of drilling are planned in 2023 – likely one of Québec’s largest drilling programs this year – at NAL and Jourdan’s adjacent Vallée Lithium Project. It comprises the 28 claims subject to an earn-in and joint venture agreement the two companies entered in November 2022.