Kibaran Resources has proven it can produce spherical battery grade graphite from other miners’ graphite – a move it labelled as a “major breakthrough”.

Spherical graphite, processed from natural or fine flake graphite, is used in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries.

Shares advanced 3.5 per cent to 15c in early morning trade on Friday.

Tanzania-focused Kibaran (ASX:KNL) has been able to produce carbon purity of 99.95 per cent using its proprietary EcoGraf purification process on natural flake graphite samples sourced from overseas.

The graphite came from producers in Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa.

EcoGraf is an environmentally friendly purification process that Kibaran says is “timely given growing awareness for ‘ethical’ material sourcing from customers and major battery groups”.

Kibaran Resources (ASX:KNL) shares gained ground on the news.
Kibaran Resources (ASX:KNL) shares gained ground on the news.

The results mean that Kibaran can develop a second revenue-generating arm in addition to its planned 60,000-tonne-per-annum Epanko graphite project and associated downstream processing operation in Tanzania.

This would include building a processing plant utilising EcoGraf in Europe to upgrade natural flake graphite from other miners to a battery grade product for supply to anode manufacturers.

Spherical graphite supply tightens

The demand for battery grade graphite products continues to increase.

Europe’s EU Commission previously launched the EU Battery Alliance to promote the establishment of European lithium-ion battery manufacturing capabilities.

The EU Commission forecasts that this market will be worth up to €250 billion ($393.6 billion) by 2025.

The EU Battery Alliance is focused on supplying batteries for European electric vehicle manufacturers.

The global production of graphite and spherical graphite is currently dominated by China.

But China’s continued effort to curtail environmentally damaging production has made a dent in supply – with the spherical graphite sector particularly hard hit, according to market forecaster Roskill.

Roskill sees China’s production inspections and temporary closures continuing for the rest of this year, which will continue to impact the country’s natural flake graphite supply chain.