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Sarytogan Graphite goes nuclear with “five nines” Kazakhstan graphite

Updated: Mar 21

Sarytogan Graphite has produced a 2.2kg graphite sample of 99.9992 per cent carbon purity.

ASX-listed Sarytogan Graphite (ASX: SGA) has achieved the coveted “five nines” purity level for bulk flotation concentrate from its namesake project in Kazakhstan, with one 2.2kg sample assayed at 99.9992 per cent carbon.

Shares in the company surged more than 23 per cent following the announcement to touch 23.5c during intraday trading from a previous close of 19c.

Management says the purified product is expected to be suitable for the nuclear industry at super-premium prices and has estimated it to be more than 50 times purer than the required battery specification. It says the achieved purity will add further value and possibilities for its project.

Late last year, the company produced its first spheroidized graphite, which is the final flowsheet element needed to produce uncoated spherical purified graphite (USPG) and ultra-high purity fines (UHPF) for use in lithium-ion batteries and other related markets. It is now continuing to test lithium-ion batteries made with its coated spherical purified graphite (CSPG).

Sarytogan Five Nines Graphite broadens the product offering from Sarytogan.
Sarytogan Graphite managing director Sean Gregory

Management says the 2.2kg sample was assayed at 0.032 parts per million boran, which is well below the maximum nuclear specification of 2ppm.

Sarytogan Five Nines Graphite broadens the product offering from Sarytogan, from industrial uses to advanced battery applications and now a range of nuclear uses. The prefeasibility study is continuing to advance on schedule, and we expect to be able to quantify the economics associated with taking our giant and exceptionally high-grade deposit into the premium battery anode market and now super-premium nuclear industry market.
Sarytogan Graphite managing director Sean Gregory

Management says graphite has remained an indispensable part of a nuclear fission reactor since its invention in the late 1930s. Its primary use is as the moderator surrounding the uranium fuel rods to bounce escaping neutrons back to the uranium to moderate the release of energy. To be suitable for use as a moderator in nuclear reactors, graphite should be a fine powder at high purity of at least 99.999 per cent carbon.

High-purity graphite also has additional uses in the nuclear industry to produce yarns, seals, lubricants, coatings, foils and reflective materials.

According to Sarytogan, the global market for nuclear graphite is currently about 60,000 tonnes per annum and is set to grow with the renewed worldwide investment in nuclear power. Graphite used as nuclear moderators sells at prices of higher than US$25,000 (AU$38,310) per tonne – a significant premium to the graphite used in lithium-ion batteries.

In the space of just 18 months, the company has delivered a high-grade mineral resource at its Kazakhstan project of 229 million tonnes at an incredible 28.9 per cent total graphitic content (TGC).

Drilling results received early last year confirmed the near-surface nature of the deposit, with assays of 26.8m grading a heady 30.4 per cent TGC right from surface – and that hole ended in mineralisation. Additional wide, shallow results show 47.6m at 31.3 per cent TGC, also from surface, including 13.9m going 40.2 per cent TGC, in addition to a 6.8m hit grading 37 per cent in the same hole.

The company is looking to build a purification and spheroidization plant that will process its own mined product and it is investigating options to acquire industrial land in Karaganda, 190km from the project. Management says that location comes replete with access to low-cost power, water, rail terminals and a skilled workforce and has all of the industrial amenities of a major city.

Importantly, some of those options also offer favourable tax incentives from the Kazakhstan Government.

Sarytogan says the addition of nuclear applications adds another layer to its economic product strategy to place as many units of carbon into as many markets as possible.

Management expects to deliver its prefeasibility study for the project no later than this year’s third quarter.

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