Eco-friendly graphite breakthrough to power electric cars
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Kibaran Resources is in talks with major global anode manufacturers after developing a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly way to produce battery-grade graphite, a key element used to power electric cars.
The Tanzanian-focused graphite play (ASX:KNL) has developed a “ground-breaking” graphite purification method at its Epanko project which uses non-toxic chemicals readily available in Tanzania.
The process eliminates the use hydrofluoric acid, a highly toxic and corrosive chemical capable of dissolving many materials, now used by all battery-grade graphite producers.
The eco-friendly production process is a result of significant testing and favourable mineralogy in Kibaran’s Epanko deposit.
Kibaran believes the process will be a key future requirement for anode material and battery producers.
The process is expected have low capital and operating costs while Kibaran investigates patenting the process.
Kibaran is now holding talks with leading major anode manufacturers in China, Japan and Korea and says it has received positive feedback on the Epanko product properties.
“Recent visits to the major anode manufacturers has allowed us to see first-hand that the growth in battery spherical grade graphite and the demand for spherical graphite is much greater than expected,” Kibaran managing director Andrew Spinks said.
“This, combined with all the recent announcements by major car manufacturers concerning the shift to electric vehicles, will be the lead to an even larger demand for graphite.”
He also noted that the breakthrough came amid a strengthening outlook for natural flake graphite and battery spherical graphite prices due to the situation of high demand and market shortage of high-quality battery-grade graphite.
“It is very clear that growth for battery spherical graphite is increasing at a greater rate than expected,” Mr Spinks said.
A feasibility study for production of battery-grade graphite at Epanko will now be revised and is expected to be completed next quarter after optimisation work for the purification process and expanded production is finalised. The study was originally slated for this quarter.
This study is separate to the recently reported Epanko 60,000 tonnes per annum bankable feasibility study which found the project to be economically and technically robust.
Epanko has a mineral resource estimate of 30.7 million tonnes grading at 9.9 per cent total graphite carbon (TGC). The project has a capital cost of $US88.9 million.
Drastic changes to Tanzanian’s Mining Act saw the share prices of ASX-listed Tanzanian explorers take a dip.
However, Kibaran has been one of the success stories with the company’s share price gaining since reports surfaced of the changes to the mining act in July.
Since its closing price of 13c on July 12, the stock has gained around 50 per cent to close yesterday at 19c.
Kibaran has a market cap of around $46 million and cash of $2.1 million as at end of last quarter.