In high-demand: Oar to re-commence exploration at Oakdale as graphite joins the A-list as the new lithium
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Demand for battery grade graphite is booming on the back of unprecedented demand for lithium-ion batteries – and Oar Resources reckons it’s perfectly placed to capitalise with its SA Oakdale project.
The South Australian graphite dig is listed as a ‘critical minerals project’ by the Federal Government and has been subject to previous extensive drilling which resulted in the definition of an initial combined Indicated and Inferred JORC Resource of 13.47Mt at 3.3% Total Graphite Content (TGC) including 6.31Mt at 4.7% TGC3 – which formed the basis of the previous Scoping Study.
However, the demand for battery-grade graphite was much lower at the time of the original Scoping Study than it is currently.
And the graphite price is now at historic highs and demand is set to continue to remain strong, with electric vehicles and other high growth sectors relying heavily upon graphite in the production of lithium-ion batteries.
Graphite is the dominant anode material utilised in batteries, regardless of the battery chemistry. The long-term demand is such that Oar’s recommencement of exploration and other project enhancing work at Oakdale is a reflection of the intense confidence in both Oakdale and the broad support of stakeholders.
The company has now reviewed the previous Scoping Study and JORC Resource, and assessed the drill core with “highly positive” outcomes – especially when considered in conjunction with the bullish prevailing supply and demand metrics in the graphite market and considerable potential to grow the scale of the resources.
“The graphite market has improved substantially since the initial Oakdale Graphite Scoping Study was undertaken in 2015,” Oar Resources (ASX:OAR) MD Justin Richard said.
“Most significant is the demand for battery-grade graphite and the rapid uptake of electric vehicles and other battery-powered technology.
“This has contributed to sustained demand growth for graphite and higher graphite prices, and provides the ideal environment for OAR to renew its focus on the Oakdale Graphite Project, and expand upon the solid body of work already completed by the company.”
The original Scoping Study showed an estimated flotation concentrate grade of >90% TGC4, and the oxidised soft graphitic clays within the existing resource may be amenable to being cheaply and readily mined within a shallow open-pit without drilling and blasting.
The company is engaging with CSIRO and other technical experts to conduct further processing and metallurgical test work, aimed at initially producing a graphite concentrate of >95% TGC, as a first step in assessing the potential to produce a higher margin Purified Spherical Graphite (PSG).
Notably, PSG is critical to the production of the anode utilised in lithium-ion batteries.
Based on the results of this work, further targeted drilling to increase the current Oakdale JORC Resource base will be undertaken.
“If the test work we are undertaking supports the case for a high-grade graphite product, we’ll be on our way to getting the Oakdale Graphite Project back on track towards becoming a battery mineral producer,” Richard said.
“It has been noted that graphite is where lithium appeared to be five years ago.
“Currently, anode production made from graphite is entirely processed through China, and governments around the world are seeking to broaden graphite supply chains.
“This provides a significant potential opportunity for companies like OAR to develop new sources of supply, and such efforts are being supported by the Australian government through initiatives such as the $2 billion Critical Minerals Facility.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Oar Resources Limited, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.