IM Graphite News in Brief 23 – 29 January

By Laura Syrett
Published: Thursday, 29 January 2015

Northern Graphite engages offtake advisor as Eagle Graphite begins trading and GrafTech CEO faces calls to resign

Northern Graphite Corp. has appointed Endeavour Financial Ltd as an exclusive advisor to assist it in forming strategic partnerships and offtake agreements and in raising debt finance for Northern’s Bissett Creek graphite project in Ontario, Canada.

Endeavour said that Bissett Creek’s advanced state of development coupled with its potential to produce large and extra-large flake graphite at a reasonable cost made the project an attractive opportunity.

"We have had offtake/partnership discussions with a number of parties and an experienced independent advisor like Endeavour will help us bring structure and closure to the process," Greg Bowes, Northern Graphite’s CEO, commented.

Last week, Northern revealed that material from Bissett Creek had been successfully upgraded to nuclear grade purity. "The purification […] is not new, just added confirmation that we can do [this] and it will be part of our offerings," Bowes told IM.  "I think all graphite juniors should have to put out independent corroboration that their graphite is suitable for the major markets," he added.

Also in Canada, shares in Eagle Graphite Incorporated, formerly known as Amerix Precious Metals Corp. have commenced trading on the TSX-V under the ticker symbol 'EGA’.

The name change and listing follows a reverse takeover of Amerix by British Columbia-headquartered graphite miner Eagle Graphite Corp. in December last year.

The transaction has now received final approval from the TSX-V.

Great Lakes Graphite Inc. has reported that the first batch of assay results from the company’s 2014-2015 drilling programmes at the Lochaber graphite project in Quebec have confirmed distinct high grade areas at the property.

Highlights from the results include 1.6 metres grading at 10.74% C, including 0.6 metres grading at 12.1% C; 12.3 metres grading at 5.3% C, including 4 metres at8.63% C; and 3.35 metres grading at 6.25% C, including 1.55 metres at 8.44% C.

SRK Consulting will incorporate the latest set of results with existing drill data to complete a resource estimate for Lochaber, which Great Lakes expects to release before the end of March this year.

In the US, Alabama Graphite Corp. has begun trenching at its past producing Bama mine project in Chilton County, Alabama.

The contracted trenching programme will explore the geometry of graphitic mineralisation adjacent to the Bama, while Alabama Graphite personnel collect bulk samples for metallurgical testing. All trenches will be backfilled and reclaimed after sampling.

"Trenching is the logical next step in the company’s efforts to conduct modern exploration at the Bama mine," Ron Roda, CEO of Alabama Graphite, said. "All of our results to date indicate that the Bama mine is a candidate for resource testing and evaluation of its economic potential," he added.

Graphite electrode producer GrafTech International Ltd is facing calls for its CEO, Joel Hawthorne, to resign, after the head of an investment group which holds three of the seven seats on GrafTech’s board, expressed his lack of confidence in the top executive.

"We are disappointed that since becoming CEO in January 2014, Joel Hawthorne has proved incapable of addressing the serious challenges currently facing GrafTech," Nathan Milikowsky, director of the GrafTech board said in a letter released in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last week.

"During his tenure, management has generally failed to meet its own forecasts, the business has suffered quarterly net losses and GrafTech has witten off a $126m investment in advanced graphite materials – all without any true accountability," the letter continued.

The Milikowsky trust, which owns 15m shares, or more than 11.2%, of GrafTech’s stock, has threatened to nominate a full slate of seven directors for election at the company’s annual meeting later this year in order to wrest control of the business away from management.

Australia’s MRL Corp. has said that that it is set to begin production at its Aluketiya vein graphite project in Sri Lanka in the September quarter of this year, after the latest set of assays on samples from the deposit returned total graphitic carbon grades of up to 99.3% C.

The lowest grade sample from a total of 11 drill holes assayed at 76.5% C. Rehabilitation and construction work on two historic shafts at Aluketiya is due to start in March and is expected to take around two months to complete.

Aluketiya is one of five project areas within MRL’s 6,300 ha (6.3km2) Sri Lankan portfolio, located approximately two hours northeast of the country’s capital, Colombo. Sri Lanka is the only commercial producer of vein graphite, which is mainly used in crucibles and pencils at present but has potential for application in higher-value markets.

Also in Sri Lanka, Canadian junior Elcora Resources Corp., has started building a graphite processing plant at its Ragedara mine, where the company hopes to produce high purity graphite and material suitable for graphene development.

Foundation construction is underway and the company has ordered equipment necessary to construct the plant, which will have a throughput capacity of around 2,500 tpa and is slated for completion in Q2 2015.

"If successful, Elcora’s capability to refine graphite to 98% or greater purity and with appropriate flake size would facilitate the development of working relationships with end users or refined graphite and (…) help Elcora to seek and hopefully secure long-term offtake partners," Troy Grant, Elcora’s president said.

Triton Minerals Ltd has said that it is continuing to make good progress at the Nicanda Hill target located within its Balama North graphite and vanadium project in Mozambique, despite the current wet season.

The company this week signed a binding agreement with Long State Investments Ltd for a funding facility of up to Australian dollar ($A)20m ($15.6m*) over the next two years to develop Balama North.

Triton is in the final stages of a tendering process to engage contractors for engineering and mine design at Nicanda Hill, which will form the basis of a definitive feasibility study targeted for completion at the end of this year.

Representatives from Coastal and Environmental Services Pty Ltd are on site at Nicanda Hill to assist in the completion of an environmental management and impact assessment for the project.

Fellow ASX-listed Ardiden Ltd has been granted a trading halt on the ASX pending an announcement regarding the company’s acquisition of the Manitouwadge graphite project in Ontario, Canada.

The trading halt will last from 29 January until the commencement of trading on 2 February, or until Ardiden makes a statement on the acquisition – whichever takes place earlier.

Perth-headquartered Ardiden, formerly known as Stratos Resources, has an exclusive option to acquire the 3,400 ha (34km2) project, which has previously been identified in studies by the Ontario Geological Survey and other explorers working in the area.

The company recently produced a concentrate of up to 94.8% C from initial test work on samples taken from Manitouwadge.

In Australia, multi-mineral explorer Archer Exploration Ltd said in its quarterly activities report for the period ending December 2014 that it is progressing with the development of its graphite prospects on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

Testing of oxide samples from the Wilclo South prospect recovered extra-large, large, medium and fine flake graphite at commercial grades, with small scale laboratory tests indicating that 42-55% of the graphite is recoverable at flake products.

Studies for the company’s Campoona mine lease proposal advanced during the quarter and Archer is also in discussions for either a divestment or a joint venture (JV) arrangement for its Leigh Creek magnesite project.

In financial news, UK-headquartered StratMin Global Resources Plc has conditionally raised gross proceeds of £900,000 ($1.36m) through a placement of almost 18.95m new ordinary shares at a price of £0.0475/share with existing and new institutional investors.

StratMin said that the placement is conditional upon admission of the placing shares to trading on London’s AIM exchange. Net proceeds of the placing will be used to accelerate the development of StatMin’s Loharano flake graphite mine and processing plant in Madagascar.

The company restarted production at the mine last year and is selling graphite to an undisclosed offtake partner and continuing to upgrade facilities at Loharano.

I n graphene news, Spanish nano-materials company Graphenea more than doubled its sales year-on-year in 2014, to over $1.2m, it announced this week.

Without reporting exact figures for income or sales, the company said it was running at a profit. "Graphenea is proud to be a profitable business, with a positive cash flow. One of the world's largest graphene producers, the company supplied more than 370 customers in 53 countries [last year]," it said.


The company filed two additional patent applications in 2014, increased its production capacity and reduced the prices of its graphene at the beginning of this year and 2013. Graphenea has also signed agreements with several industrial partners to introduce materials further up the supply chain.


Finally, UK AIM-listed Graphene NanoChem Plc has announced that its JV company Scomi-Platinum Sdn Bhd has been granted a manufacturing licence by Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade Industry for its nano-enhanced oilfield chemicals facility in Port Klang in Malaysia.


Graphene NanoChem is developing graphene-based drilling fluids for oil drilling and is in JV partnership with Scomi Oiltools Sdn Bhd for the new Malaysian plant, which it expects to be up and running by 2016.


*Conversions made January 2015