IM Graphite News in Brief 30 January – 5 February

By Laura Syrett
Published: Thursday, 05 February 2015

Graphite used to smuggle cocaine in US; Canadian and Australian juniors issue project updates and outline targets for 2015

Police in Oklahoma made one of the biggest seizures of smuggled cocaine in state history last month, when they discovered around $5m-worth of the drug hidden in blocks of graphite powder, carbon paper, cellophane and packing tape.

According to a report by Mustang News, the cocaine was discovered when sheriffs of Canadian County in Oklahoma pulled over a truck on Interstate 40 to the east of Oklahoma City.

"The graphite powder would have been added in an attempt to mask the drug odours from drug dogs my deputies had at the scene," Sherriff Randall Edwards is quoted as saying.

Graphite has excellent insulation properties and is often used in protective coating applications, making it an ideal mask for smuggling products that can be detected by scent.

The Canadian County sheriffs decided that the driver of the truck was probably ignorant of the cocaine, which had been stowed in specially made secret compartment of a truck that was being used to haul the cars. The driver was released and the truck was impounded.

In mining news, Canadiangraphite junior Mason Graphite Inc. has retained mining consultants Met-Chem, Soutex, Hatch and Gesmine Inc. for the completion of the feasibility study (FS) on its Lac Gueret graphite project in northeast Quebec.

Hatch will additionally perform the project’s environmental and social impact assessment, which is being conducted in parallel to the FS. Both are expected to be finished in the second quarter of 2015.

Mason also announced that it completed its pilot plant testing in December 2014. The pilot tests were conducted at the COREM research facility in Quebec City in the final quarter of last year and tested a number of samples from a 60 tonne bulk sample of Lac Gueret graphite ore.

Having extended the initial six-week programme to improve the flow sheet design, Mason said it will now send its process samples for analyses of particle size, distribution and mineralogy. The company expects to receive the results of the analyses in early 2015.

Also in Canada, Zenyatta Ventures Ltd has commenced a one-to-two hole drilling programme on a buried geophysical target north of the company’s Albany graphite deposit in northeast Ontario.

The programme is designed to fulfil Zenyatta’s obligations to its shareholder, Cliffs Natural Resources Exploration Canada Inc., and will consist of approximately 650-700 metres to test a magnetic anomaly identified by VTEM surveys in 2010 and 2013.

Saint Jean Carbon Inc. has closed its acquisition of the Clot lump graphite claims in Quebec, following the TSX-V’s acceptance of documents related to the sale.

The company will issue 4.5m common shares at a deemed price of $0.05/share, of which 3.5m will be issued on closing, in addition to $2,500 cash in return for the property.

The Clot property is located in southern Quebec, 150km northwest of Montreal and consists of five established claims, plus a further three claims under request for a total area of more than 297.4ha (3km2).

TSX-V listed Graphite One Resources Inc. has outlined its 2015 operational targets for its Graphite Creek deposit in Alaska, US.

The company said it expects to release the results of its 22 hole, 2,297 204 drilling programme by the middle of this month and is looking to update its NI 43-101 resource for Graphite Creek by the end of Q1. As of January 2014, the project’s resource stands at 186.9m tonnes graphite, grading at 5.5% C, using a 3% C cut-off.

Graphite One is aiming to publish its inaugural preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for Graphite Creek by the middle of 2015 and has a metallurgical test work programme underway to evaluate the processing parameters of drilling samples. Results from this testing are expected by the end of March.

ASX-listed Metals of Africa Ltd has issued its quarterly activities report for the three months to the end of December 2014, where it outlined its continuing exploration of the Montepuez graphite property in Mozambique.

Drilling at the property targeted three zones where significant graphite mineralisation was intersected. A total of 409 core samples were sent to be assayed at the end of last year, with results expected in early February.

According to Australian media reports, the company has completed its acquisition of the Balama Central graphite project, also in Mozambique, next to fellow ASX-listed Syrah Resources Ltd’s Balama graphite project, which has a resource of 1.15bn tonnes graphite grading at 10.2% C.

Metals of Africa has agreed to pay a cash sum of $250,000 for the property, in addition to $200,000 in paid ordinary shares on completion of the deal. The company is now planning a drilling program, based on data gathered from a recent VTEM survey flown over Balama Central.

Nearby, Australia-headquartered Triton Minerals Ltd has identified three new exploration prospects at its Ancuabe project in northeast Mozambique, following a 1,800 km line VTEM survey of the property completed in late 2014.

Triton said that it intends to test these new anomalies with exploration and drilling later this year and is awaiting results from the rest of the survey data.

Separate reconnaissance mapping and sampling on one previously identified prospect area at Ancuabe has confirmed the presence of visible jumbo flake (>2,000μm) graphite. Assays of rock chip samples taken from the prospect yielded average grades of 17.6% C, with a maximum grade of 22.3% C.

Triton has also collected a 12 tonne bulk sample from its nearby Nicanda Hill graphite project for pilot plant level studies. Assays from the sample averaged 17.2% C.

Kibaran Resources Ltd has released results from the latest drilling programme on the Merelani Block C area of its Merelani-Arusha graphite project in Tanzania.

Results from the first 12 reverse circulation drill holes have so far been received, yielding grades of 6.7-19.7% C over intersections ranging from 5-61 metres in length.

Metallurgical tests are being carried out on the samples and Kibaran said that the findings support the potential for a significantly larger occurrence of graphite to that originally mined at Merelani, over a much broader area.

The company also announced that it has received an extension to the exclusivity period it has to explore Merelani Block C, which will now run until 5 May 2015.

To Australia, where Valence Industries Ltd has published an update on its activities at the recently reopened Uley graphite mine in South Australia.

The company said that its phase one plant is reprocessing raw material from existing fines and stockpiles of graphite ore leftover at the site from the mine’s previous operations and said that the production will continue to be ramped up progressively.

As of 31 December 2014, the company had cash reserves of $8.3m, having spent $3.5m on plant and laboratory test programmes during the last quarter as well as $158,000 on exploration activities.

In Sri Lanka, Canada-based Elcora Resources Corp. has completed an underground survey of the existing Ragedara graphite mine workings, where the company hopes to restart excavation of vein graphite material.

Additional surveys are now being conducted on pits to the north and south of Ragedara and the company is also planning and budgeting for a phase one underground drilling programme at the site.

Elcora’s CEO, Troy Grant, said that subject to the results of the drilling, the findings may be used in a future resource estimate for Ragedara.

In financial news, Big North Graphite Corp. is looking to raise up to $250,000 from existing shareholders and other investors through a non-brokered private placement of common shares at a price of $0.02/share.

Assuming the offering is fully subscribed, the company intends to pay $160,000 the vendors of its El Tejon graphite project in Mexico and use the balance for general working capital purposes.

Last month, the company revealed that its deal with fellow TSX-V listed graphite company Flinders Resources Ltd had fallen through as a result of Big North’s failure to satisfy all of its due diligence requirements.

ASX-listed Ardiden Ltd has raised Australian dollar (A$)300,000 ($234,000*) via a private placement to help it fund a maiden drilling programme at its recently acquired Manitouwadge graphite project in Ontario, Canada.

The placement comprised 60m shares at a price of A$0.05/share. Directors of the company have agreed to invest A$75,000 of the placement, subject to shareholder and other regulatory approvals.

Ardiden hopes to proceed with the Manitouwadge drilling programme before the end of Q1 2015.

In graphene news, Spanish nanotechnology company Graphenea has collaborated with researchers from France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Basque technology group SENSIA SL to develop graphene for use as an anti-bacterial agent and biosensor.

Graphene is 100% carbon, which has very low toxicity, making it potentially suitable for human health applications. The material’s ability to absorb light and convert it into heat, which has already been used to destroy cancer cells, can also be harnessed for killing harmful bacteria like E-coli, Graphenea said.

In a separate piece of research, the three teams demonstrated that a layer of graphene on gold can act as a highly effective sensor of DNA hybridisation. The paper, entitled "Highly sensitive detection of DNA hybridization in commercialised graphene-coated surface plasmon resonance surfaces", has been published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Malaysia-operating Scomi-Platinum Sdn, a subsidiary of UK AIM-listed Graphene NanoChem Plc, has signed an agreement with an undisclosed international oil company for testing and evaluation of its graphene-based PlatDrill drilling fluids.

Graphene NanoChem said that the oil company was one of the "top five" in the world and that the deal marks a significant milestone in the phased expansion of PlatDrill into new regions.

The company expects the tests to be completed by Q4 2015, after which it hopes to enter commercial discussions with the oil firm.

Finally, Graphene 3D Lab Inc. has installed filament production equipment at its manufacturing facilities in New York State, US.

The industrial scale thermoplastic extruder will allow the company to make conductive graphene filaments, with a capacity of up to 10kg/hour.

*Conversion made February 2015