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International Graphite battery tests boost WA play


Graphite concentrate recovered at International Graphite’s Springdale project in WA. Credit: File

International Graphite (ASX: IG6) has reported “exceptional” battery testwork results on graphite concentrate from its 100 per cent-owned Springdale project in Western Australia’s deep south, with studies in Germany showing purity levels above that expected for use in lithium-ion electric vehicle (EV) batteries.


The company says its graphite has now proven to be suitable for premium EV battery anodes in what is a developing global market. Purification testwork on micronised and spheroidised Springdale project concentrates under optimised processing conditions achieved results ranging from 99.96 per cent to 99.97 per cent using a chemical non-hydrofluoric acid (HF) method.


The test program was conducted in Germany by industry specialists ProGraphite. Electrochemical testwork was also conducted in Germany under ProGraphite’s supervision by a specialist graphite battery testing group.


International Graphite says battery stress testing over 46 charging/discharging cycles showed the Springdale graphite concentrate has high stability and durability, with the tests showing what it describes as “exceptional” charging and discharging capacity.


Management says stress testing over longer cycles will now be conducted in the next stage of battery testwork.


The purification results demonstrate the potential for an optimised and simplified purification process to be used as an alternative to the traditional industry standard HF method. The electrochemical results are highly encouraging as a first phase sighter test program. These results will inform the optimisation of micronisation, spheroidisation and purification testwork and flowsheet development for our planned battery anode facilities.
International Graphite technical director David Pass

Previous beneficiation testwork using Springdale drill-core samples produced the concentrate that was used in the tests. The company’s recent cash injection of $1.3 million from a timely tax rebate for its research and development (R&D) activities has bolstered its funding to assist with developing its battery anode material.


The Springdale project, about 25km from the small WA town of Hopetoun, has a mineral resource estimate of 49.3 million tonnes of graphite at 6.5 per cent total contained graphite (TCG) for 3.2 million tonnes of the highly sought-after battery mineral. Hopetoun sits about 590km south-east of Perth.


Management says its recently-updated mine-to-market scoping study provides a compelling set of numbers for its mining and downstream operations.


It says there is significant potential for expansion at both the Springdale mine and its anticipated Collie downstream processing facility. It says it plans to provide graphite concentrate from the Springdale mine to its proposed processing operation at Collie – a trucking distance of about 500km.


The Collie battery anode material (BAM) facility is designed to process a 95 per cent concentrate, producing anode material for the lithium-ion battery industry. The company says key outcomes from the study include a globally competitive cost structure and multi-decade mine life using only about 15 per cent of the existing resource, with an average TGC feed grade of 9.5 per cent and a concentrator throughput of 500,000 tonnes per annum.


It believes there is tremendous potential to significantly scale up the project from the base-case scenario used in the study.


The Chinese Government’s recent decision to restrict the export of its graphite products has triggered a greater importance for the development of world-class operations in alternative regions to meet future demand for the “black lead”. That significance is highlighted with China currently supplying more than 80 per cent of the world market.


So, the latest test results from Springdale indicate International Graphite might just have the right ore at the right time, with an anticipated increase in future demand for the mineral potentially resulting in a major battery player knocking on the company’s door.


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