Nemaska Lithium gets lifeline, just as Tesla wins new interest in China – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – January 9, 2020)

Nemaska CEO hoping Tesla’s prospects there could spark strong enough investor excitement to help lift it out of creditor protection

On Tuesday, the same day that Elon Musk awkwardly danced on a stage outside Shanghai and delivered the first “made in China” Tesla Model 3, the Canadian company that hopes to build a foundation for an electric vehicle revolution in North America received a lifeline in Quebec.

The province’s Superior Court Judge Louis J. Gouin gave Nemaska Lithium an additional month to figure out a way forward, under court-granted creditor protection, as it seeks to build the country’s first mine and electrochemical conversion plant to produce battery-grade lithium to power electric vehicles.

Early last year, Nemaska was forced to pause construction on its project in Northern Quebec after a dispute with its bondholders and cost overruns created a roughly $600-million funding shortfall.

While Gouin has stayed claims against the company by creditors and others, it’s clear that Nemaska — which less than two years ago received a $100-million investment from Japan’s Softbank, and $130 million from Investissement Quebec but now has been delisted from the TSX — is struggling for survival amid declining lithium prices.

Guy Bourassa, chief executive of Nemaska, told the Financial Post he is hopeful that a new financing package could be arranged within six months. “We’re not working on a scenario of selling off assets,” he said. “We’re working on a scenario of financing our assets.”

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