Graphite: Tanzanian projects edge closer to production

Graphite mine

Several Tanzanian natural graphite projects have been advanced in recent months as companies race to be the next natural non-Chinese graphite producer. Investment in the region has been spurred by an increasing Chinese appetite for foreign imports and the success of natural graphite projects in other African countries; meanwhile, relative stability regarding the Tanzanian political situation and the reissue of mining licences to foreign producers has also helped to renew interest in Tanzanian graphite.

Black Rock Mining completed an enhanced definitive feasibility study (DFS) in July this year, adding a fourth production module to increase its steady state graphite concentrate production estimates to 340ktpy from 250ktpy in its original DFS of October 2018. Black Rock Mining says the enhancement is a response to market demand from its offtake partners.

In late August, Graphex Mining reported that it had increased mineral resources at its Chilalo graphite project by 19% to 20.1Mt grading 9.9% TGC – including 10.3Mt of indicated resources at 10.5% TGC (1.1Mt contained graphite equivalent) and 9.8Mt of inferred resources at 9.3% TGC (0.9Mt contained graphite equivalent). The company completed a prefeasibility study in September 2018 and is now looking to complete a DFS. US private equity firm Castlelake has agreed to provide Graphex Mining with up to US$80M in funding once the project meets certain conditions, including completion of the DFS.

Walkabout Resources began a project of procurement, manufacturing and siteworks for its Lindi Jumbo project in May 2019, including purchase of machinery in China and clearing of land in Tanzania ready for construction. It released an enhanced DFS in March this year following an upgrade in ore reserves. Armadale Capital is also working on a DFS for its Mahenge Liandu project and completed metallurgical testwork in August. Other companies looking to open natural graphite operations in Tanzania include Kibaran Resources (developing the Epanko project), Magnis Energy Technologies (Nachu), and Volt resources (Banyu), all of which have completed feasibility studies.

Roskill View

Although initial progress of Tanzanian projects was promising, many stalled through 2017 and 2018 following a series of measures by the country’s government aimed at tightening control over its mining industry. In July 2017, the country suspended the issuance of all new mining licences pending a major overhaul of the fiscal and regulatory regime of its mining sector. Licences for foreign graphite developers only began to be reissued from September 2018.

Large amounts of natural flake graphite production have come on-line in recent years in Mozambique and, to a lesser extent, Madagascar and have begun to feed new and rapidly increasing demand from China. Roskill believes there is room for other new sources of graphite supply to meet increasing global demand over the next decade.

The burgeoning Chinese lithium-ion battery sector is looking increasing to foreign sources of small and medium size flake graphite to complement its already large domestic supply—a market which has so far been supplied with material from Syrah Resources’ Balama project in Mozambique. China is thought to have limited resources of larger size flake required in the smaller but high growth market of expandable/expanded graphite. Madagascar is known for the large size of its flake graphite and is supplying China and other global markets.

Roskill’s NEW Natural & Synthetic Graphite: Outlook to 2028 report was published in June 2019. Click here to download the brochure and sample pages or to access further information.

Roskill will be speaking at Fastmarket’s Graphite 2019 event in Berlin in September.

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This article was written by Suzanne Shaw. Please get in touch below if you wish to discuss further:

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