Canada Carbon vein graphite tests show nuclear potential

By Emma Hughes
Published: Friday, 21 February 2014

Graphite exploration company, Canada Carbon Inc. has reported the first in a series of laboratory results from its vein graphite Miller property, in Quebec, which shows the potential for new material to enter the nuclear industry.

Graphite exploration company, Canada Carbon Inc. has reported the first in a series of laboratory results from its vein graphite Miller property, in Quebec, which shows the potential for new material to enter the nuclear industry.

Tests by Evans Analytical Group (EAG) on the crystallinity of the graphite and by SGS Lakefield on the purity have shown the potential for the product to enter the nuclear industry, with the company already holding meetings with federal government officials.

EAG said the crystalline quality of the graphite was “better than any other industrial graphite sample” it has analysed to date.

“Following our earlier metallurgical testing at SGS Lakefield, which yielded graphite as pure as could be determined by their analytical method, a sample of that same material was shown to be of nuclear-grade purity (...),” said Canada Carbon CEO, Bruce Duncan.

“We were able to show that brief thermal upgrading could remove more than 90% of the already very low contaminant burden. And now, we have clear scientific evidence of the high order crystallinity of our Miller hydrothermal graphite,” he added.

Bench-scale tests to examine the dispersion behaviour of the Miller graphite in carbon disulphide (CS2) saw the sample partially exfoliate, highlighting its suitability for the graphene market.


Nuclear meetings

Since receiving these results, Canada Carbon management has met with a number of federal government officials from “various agencies” to discuss the first domestic production of nuclear and military grade graphite in recent history.

At present, high purity vein graphite from Sri Lanka is the major source of material used by the nuclear industry.

Further meetings with federal government officials are planned, the company confirmed.

Miller property

Canada Carbon’s Miller graphite property is located in Grenville, Quebec, and has in the past produced both graphite and mica.

The size of the deposit is unknown but it is thought that around 25 cars of lump graphite was shipped from the deposit in the 1900s, yielding 32 tonnes of crucible-grade graphite.

A 2013 sampling programme identified grades as high as 80.1% C and assessed the visible graphite deposit through a series of new samples taken directly along and into the vein at a depth of approximately 30-50mm.

Canada Carbon stated that the flotation of the Miller graphite sample prior to purification achieves better than 99% C.

The property covers 94km2 and is located 80km west of Montreal. Main roads connect up to 800 metres away from the deposit and travel all around the property.

Nuclear grade graphite

Both synthetic graphite and natural vein graphite have commonly been used in the nuclear industry in traditional reactors. This has provided the graphite industry with a niche but high value market.

New generation designs feature pebble shells - nuclear fuel coated with silicon carbide, natural, synthetic and recycled graphite layers that moderate the reaction speed - which carry nuclear fuel into the reactor. These pebble-bed reactors could use significantly more graphite than today’s industry and could provide future, high purity suppliers with a significant market opportunity.