BlackEarth Minerals (ASX:BEM) has proven it can produce graphite to market specifications — with production yields above the industry benchmark.

The company told its shareholders this morning in a pre-open announcement that test work on graphite from its Maniry project in Madagascar came back positive, and potential customers had been quick with their praise too.

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It was able to produce a spherical graphite product from a flake graphite floatation concentrate — with the spherical product ideal for use in the battery industry.

BlackEarth bagged spherical yields of up to 52 per cent, against an industry average of 42 per cent it said.

Vitally, spherical graphite producers and battery anode manufacturers in China who were able to look over the results of the test work also offered positive feedback.

The test results are somewhat of a boon for the company, which is hurtling towards a DFS at Maniry over the coming months.

“It highlights the company’s potential to meet the spherical graphite specifications which are favourable for offtake agreements,” BlackEarth managing director Tom Revy said.

The next steps in the test work is to purify the spherical graphite produced, with production of pouch cells and “electrochemical characterisation work expected to start thereafter”.


In other ASX battery metals news today

Meanwhile, Black Rock Mining (ASX:BKT) has delivered a spheronising yield up to 53 per cent from a 400kg sample. It was able to deliver the yield with a purity of 99.98 per cent — crucially using commercial-scale equipment in commercial processing and dedicated research facilities within China. The trial was carried out at a dedicated pilot plant run by the company’s EPC partner, Yantai Jinyuan Mining Machinery.

Aside from the large sample size (100 times larger than its previous lab experiments), Black Rock said the vital part was that it was able to demonstrate that the spherical graphite could be produced in the type of labs end customers would use. The spherical graphite produced from the trial is now being sent to “interested parties” for further testing.

Renascor Resources (ASX:RNU) has produced battery grade spherical graphite (+99.95 per cent) using a caustic roasting process — rather than a more damaging hydrofluoric acid purification process. The test work also confirmed key processes outlined in the company’s PFS for the Siviour graphite project in South Australia.

Not only is caustic roasting more environmentally friendly than hydrofluoric acid, Renascor says it potentially offers cost savings with reduced roasting time and reagent consumption needed. Samples from the program are now being sent off to potential offtake and strategic partners, with the company telling the market it’s expecting to have a DFS done on the project soon.

Could NSW emerge as a supplier of cobalt? If Australian Mines’ (ASX:AUZ) latest set of drilling results are anything to go by, maybe. The ASX-listed cobalt players told investors today that it had managed to effectively extend the known cobalt mineralisation at its Flemington project in the state by 1200m on the back of new drilling results.

  • 15m @ 2054 parts per million cobalt from 3m
  • 14m @ 1202ppm from 11m
  • 13m @1186ppm from 4m  

The drilling extended the zone by 1200m westward, and the company says the mineralisation remains open. More drilling will be done in October, with an updated mineral resource at the project pencilled in for early 2020.