Graphite: Further progress for natural graphite mining projects

Natural flake graphite

New life is being breathed into the natural graphite industry with several companies releasing announcements of project developments through March.

Australian company Battery Minerals has provided updates on its two flake graphite projects in the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique. It has secured a mining licence for its Montepuez project and construction is underway for 100ktpy of concentrate capacity. The company plans to produce 45-50ktpy of concentrate in Stage 1 with production to begin in November 2018 and first shipments from March next year. It completed a definitive feasibility study for the project in February 2017. Battery Minerals also completed a scoping study for its Balama Central project in March 2018 and doubled the project’s resource estimate. A definitive feasibility study could be completed later this year.

Meanwhile, in North America, Mason Graphite began ordering equipment for its Canadian Lac Guéret plant, having continued with permitting through late 2017. In the USA, Westwater Resources was in the process of acquiring Alabama Graphite in March. Alabama Graphite began work on a feasibility study for its Coosa project in mid-2017. In Australia, Renascor Resources completed a prefeasibility study on its Siviour graphite project on the Eyre Peninsula in March. Renascor Resources previously completed a scoping study in May 2017.

Roskill view: Natural graphite projects worldwide are seeing more rapid development, buoyed by rising prises and forecasts of bourgeoning demand for graphite in lithium-ion batteries. Development had been fairly quiet while concentrate prices sat at a continued low but rising prices since October last year have spurred renewed interest and investment.

Focus remains on Mozambique where Syrah Resources is ramping up capacity following the start of production in November last year. The company had hoped to produce as much as 160-180ktpy of graphite in 2018 but has reported some problems with processing ramp-up in early 2018. It is hoped that the situation will become clearer over the next few months and give a better indication of production for the full year.

Roskill’s Natural and Synthetic Graphite: Global Industry, Markets and Outlook to 2027 report will be published in May 2018 and details natural and synthetic production, consumption and market trends.