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International Graphite inks $4.7 million deal with Feds

Updated: May 20

International Graphite is fast-tracking its mine-to-market graphite strategy in WA. Credit: File

A-focused International Graphite has landed a $4.7 million funding agreement with the Federal Government as part of the national Critical Minerals Development Program.

The company says it plans to use the funds to fast-track an integrated mine-to-market graphite supply chain strategy in WA and that the grant underscores the Government’s recognition of the potential role graphite and the company can play in the Australian critical minerals industry.

The funds are to be made available to the company across a 22-month period with the first tranche of $1.7 million expected to be delivered before the end of June.

There is an urgent need to expand global graphite supply and the pressure is on for new sources to reach market as quickly as possible. With our planned mine and concentrator at the Springdale Graphite Project near Hopetoun and downstream battery anode processing facilities in Collie, we offer a unique Western Australian focussed opportunity to be a pre-eminent global supplier of choice to the lithium-ion battery markets. International Graphite managing director and chief executive officer Andrew Worland

Management believes with graphite being key to achieving global decarbonisation commitments, its project has the potential to strengthen Australia’s position as a leader in critical minerals.

Springdale boasts an inferred resource of more than 15 million tonnes grading 6 per cent total graphite content (TGC) which, notably, houses an even higher grade core 2.6-million-tonne inferred resource running at an eye-catching grade of 17.5 per cent TGC.

The project is a near-surface, potentially open-pit mining operation that is strategically located on WA’s south coast and offers a well-developed infrastructure of roads and ports.

The $4.7 million grant announced today is not the first time International Graphite has received Government recognition. Back in October last year, the WA Government concluded a $2 million financial assistance agreement with International Graphite as part of the Collie Futures Industry Development Fund grant. Those funds were earmarked to further ongoing development of the company’s graphite processing pilot plant and its research and development facility in Collie which is expected to churn out about 4000 tonnes a year of micronised graphite.

In March, International Graphite completed a definitive feasibility study (DFS) that significantly expands on the production rates initially contemplated when the State Government grant was secured and the company says annual production could even be as high as 5000 tonnes a year.

The DFS shows operational costs for producing micronised graphite sit at an average of US$1980 (AU$2982) per tonne with a current sales price of US$3000 (AU$4519) per tonne.

Micronised graphite is an essential ingredient for a wide range of industrial products including polymers, adhesives, ceramics and specialty lubricants. Importantly, the product is also the first step in the production of lithium battery anode material that the company also plans on producing in Collie.

Graphite is the key component serving as the lithium-ion host structure in the anode – or negative electrode – of a lithium-ion battery and represents nearly half of all the required components of the battery. Remarkably, nearly every lithium-ion battery available today requires almost all of its anode material to be made of graphite.

However, despite being an indispensable component of almost every EV battery available today, graphite has curiously struggled to get the market’s attention.

According to Macquarie Bank, may that be about to change.

In its February note to clients this year, the investment bank predicted the commodity would soon be having its time in the shine.

Macquarie predicted that over the next decade, an increase in demand would see the need for graphite supply to increase by 300 per cent in order to keep pace. What’s more, while it sees an increase in supply of around 200 per cent across the same time, mostly from Africa, it still believes a sizeable graphite shortfall is on the horizon.

With the global EV juggernaut continuing to rumble on and analysts such as those from Macquarie now spying a real supply gap in the graphite market on the horizon, International Graphite’s timing for the opening of its Collie facility could prove prescient.

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