Syrah Resources achieves first spherical graphite production

By Davide Ghilotti, William Clarke
Published: Thursday, 31 January 2019

Syrah uses transatlantic connection to produce battery anode material in US for electric vehicle market.

Australian graphite producer Syrah Resources has achieved its first production of unpurified spherical graphite at its battery anode material (BAM) facility at Louisiana in the United States, Davide Ghilotti reports.

The company, which operates the Balama flake graphite mine in Mozambique, has completed installing milling equipment at the site, with capacity for 5,000 tonnes per year.

The first volumes of spherical graphite produced will be tested and developed to meet customer qualifications, the company said.

Syrah acquired the Louisiana facility for its BAM project in May 2018 and has been running the plant with flake-graphite feedstock mined at its Mozambique operation.

While the overall majority of spherical graphite production capacity is currently located in China, the global evolution of the electric vehicle (EV) industry is leading to new production facilities being established outside the East Asian country.

Spherical graphite prices moved up over the course of 2018 with the higher production and sales of EVs supporting demand for the material, which is used in battery anodes.

The installation of purification equipment at the Louisiana facility, which will allow batch processing of purified spherical graphite, is also continuing, with the company intending to produce purified spherical graphite during the first quarter of 2019.

Syrah starts commercial graphite production at Balma project

On January 14, Syrah announced that production volumes and consistency had reached the levels needed for commercial production, William Clarke reports.

In 2018, the Balama facility reached production output of 104,000 tonnes over the year, compared with nameplate capacity for 350,000 tonnes per year.

Progress at the project was stalled for five weeks in October 2018 due to a fire.

Syrah will provide further updates on the progress of the ramp-up on January 30, when it releases its quarterly financial results for the fourth quarter of 2018.

In December 2018, Syrah announced a binding offtake agreement for a minimum of 48,000 tpy with Chinese company Qingdao Langruite Graphite. The deal has an option for another 12,000 tonnes of offtake to be sold at Syrah’s discretion.