IM Graphite News in Brief 18 – 24 September

By Myles McCormick
Published: Thursday, 24 September 2015

Valence to cut workforce by 60%; Syrah’s Balama project startup targeted for early 2017; Lanka signs graphite supply agreement with Taiwanese university.

ASX-listed Valence Industries Ltd will reduce its workforce by 60% at both its Uley mine in South Australia and its Adelaide corporate office.

The decision comes as part of a general move to reduce costs and to operate the existing Uley plant at 50% of its nameplate capacity until April 2016, while a process improvement programme is carried out.

Separately, the company announced that commissioning and ramp up of production at UIey is continuing, with concentrate grades of up to 94% produced including "high proportions" of large flake sizes.

It said that that bottlenecks had been identified which, when removed, will increase production capacity by over 50%.

Syrah Resources Ltd, also listed on the ASX, said that its Balama graphite project in Mozambique is on track to begin production in the first quarter of 2017.

The company said that that detailed engineering design work was progressing as planned and that long-lead capital equipment items had been identified and would be ordered in the coming months.

Syrah added that the plant will have a feed rate of 2m tpa with an average head grade of approximately 19% total graphitic carbon (TGC) over its first 10 years of operation. This will result in installed capacity of 356,000 tpa of over 95% C concentrate.

The company completed an A$211m ($149m*) capital raising programme this month to advance the development of the project.

ASX-listed Lanka Graphite Ltd has signed a material collaboration agreement with the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology for the supply of high grade vein graphite from its central and western Sri Lankan projects.

The company has secured the future rights to commercialise the research intellectual property. Lanka’s managing director, Emily Lee, said that the deal was a step forward towards the company’s goal to become "a key player in the Asian high-value end user graphite markets".

Sayona Mining Ltd – another ASX-listed explorer – has announced the results of its Brazilian Itabela graphite project pilot plant testing programme, which it said produced "high-value, high-purity, jumbo and large flake graphite".

The company added that ultra-high purity graphite of over 99.9% C was produced via a simple purification process and added that it is well positioned to supply a multitude of markets that command premium pricing.

ASX-listed Bass Metals Ltd is set to proceed with its acquisition of StratMin Global Resources Plc subsidiary, Graphmada Mauritius.

The company announced that due diligence work had been completed and said that it is now moving to fund the first tranche of the purchase.  

Ardiden Ltd – also ASX-listed – announced it has discovered an extensive outcropping flake graphite on a previously unexplored 2.6km anomaly, labelled Silver Star.

The company said a mapping and sampling programme at the site is currently underway, and approvals have been lodged for a drill programme to confirm the scale of the find.

Perth-based Walkabout Resources Ltd completed a versatile time domain electromagnetic (VTEM) survey across two areas of its Lindi jumbo graphite project.

Drilling has now commenced on a number of drill targets, the majority of which, the company said, coincide with high-grade large flake graphite occurrences previously sampled and reported.

The Lindi project is contiguous and directly to the east of the Walkabout’s Nachu graphite project, which is currently undergoing development

ASX-listed Triton Minerals Ltd announced that substantial graphitic mineralisation had been confirmed at its Ancuabe site in Mozambique.

It said that initial drilling confirmed that mineralisation is continuous over a strike length of 550 metres within a 2.5km target strike length, intersecting a number of mineable zones of large and jumbo flake graphite.

An environment impact assessment (EIA) is continuing on schedule and an initial feasibility study of the site is being carried out.

In financing news, TSX-V-listed Graphite One Resources Inc. said that it is increasing the amount of funds it is seeking to raise via a non-brokered private placement offering from C$1m ($0.75m) to C$1.5m.

The company will issue up to 21.43m units at C$0.07/unit, with each unit consisting of one common share and one transferable common share purchase warrant, entitling the holder to buy a further share at a price of C$0.10/share within a three-year period.

The proceeds from the fundraising project are to be used for the exploration and development of Graphite One’s Graphite Creek project as well as for general working capital purposes.

ASX-listed Metals of Africa Ltd announced that an A$3m placement of 66.8m shares at A$0.045/share has received "strong support" and consequently been oversubscribed.

Via the placement, the company has fully funded a number of project delivery milestones including a pre-feasibility study and JORC resource for its Montepuez Central graphite project in Mozambique.

In graphene news, TSX-V-listed Flinders Resources Ltd’s Swedish subsidiary, Woxna AB, has been selected as an industry partner within Svenskt Grafen, a Swedish government-funded programme to research and commercialise graphene production from Swedish-sourced graphite. 

Flinders said that its flagship Woxna graphite mine and processing facility is production-ready and fully permitted. The company added that Woxna – the only graphite mine in Sweden and one of just two in Europe – was a "natural partner" for the programme.

The Woxna mine has a rated capacity 13,000 tpa flake graphite. It has not been in production since 2001, when it ceased operation after a five-year run due to falling graphite prices.

TSX-V-listed Zenyatta Ventures Ltd said it had received positive test results from Israel’s Ben Gurion University relating to its Albany graphite.

Studies found that the product has properties with "positive attributes for use in multiple graphene applications".

Dr. Oren Regev, associate professor at the university’s department of chemical engineering said: "We believe that this is a high value special material with unique characteristics that could make Albany graphite the preferred material for conversion to valuable graphene applications."

Finally, Haydale Graphene Industries Plc has been awarded research grants totalling £450,000 ($689,000) by the UK government. Receipt of the funds is subject to completion of final grant documentation and the achievement of various project milestones.

The new projects to be funded by the grants include the development of low cost, self-cleaning graphene-enhanced coatings for industrial membranes used in the cleaning and filtering of waste water and swimming pools; the development of resins and coatings for use in safety critical composite applications such as aircraft primary structures, pressure vessels, yachts and car chassis structures; and an investigation into the feasibility of developing "type V liner-less thermoplastic composite hydrogen pressure vessels" for hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles.

Haydale CEO, Ray Gibbs, said that government assistance is "vital in accelerating the commercialisation of graphene based composite products".

*Conversions made September 2015