Early testing has produced high-quality spherical graphite from a deposit in South Australia, explorer Renascor Resources has announced.

Graphite flakes are rated by size as small, medium, large or jumbo. Bigger flakes tend to be higher in purity and attract higher prices. Battery grade is the most expensive at 99.9 per cent purity.

Renascor’s shares — which have doubled in the past six months — jumped another 28 per cent in Thursday morning trade. The stock hit 5.1c — a 52-week high — but dropped back to 4.5c around 12.30pm AEDT .

Graphite is much sought-after because it is a key element in lithium-ion batteries. (Read our expert guide on what to look for when investing in battery metals here.)

Tesla boss Elon Musk famously said electric car battery cells should be called nickel-graphite instead of lithium-ion “because primarily the cathode is nickel and the anode side is graphite with silicon oxide… [there’s] a little bit of lithium in there, but it’s like the salt on the salad”.

Depending on who you speak to, there is anywhere between five and 30 times more graphite in a lithium-ion battery than lithium.

Renascor Resources (ASX:RNU) have hit a new 52-week high.

Battery-grade graphite attracts a high premium.

“High purity (99.95 per cent) spherical graphite sells at a significant premium to flake graphite concentrates, with current market prices in excess of $US3000 per tonne,” Renascor (ASX:RNU) told investors on Thursday morning.

“At present, nearly all spherical graphite used in lithium ion battery anodes is sourced from China,” said Renascor managing director David Christensen.

The 25kg test sample came from Renascor’s Siviour graphite deposit in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

Renascor believes Siviour is one of the world’s biggest reported graphite deposits with a mineral resource of some 80.6 million tonnes at 7.9 per cent total graphitic content (TGC) for 6.4 million tonnes of contained graphite.

That includes “higher-grade mineralisation of 30.1 million tonnes at 10.0 per cent TGC for 3 million tonnes of contained graphite”, the company says.

“Siviour has the potential to become a strategic diversification of supply of this globally important commodity by offering a high quality spherical product mined and processed in Australia,” Mr Christensen said.

“We are delighted with these results, as they confirm the ability to produce a value-added spherical graphite product for sale into the rapidly expanding lithium ion battery anode market.”