Kibaran Resources Limited (ASX: KNL) has received better than expected results in the pilot plant test work program for its unique purification process EcoGraf. It comes in line with the company’s ambition to become a global supplier of eco-friendly graphite flakes that can meet the requirements of lithium-ion battery manufacturers.
The company has lodged an updated global patent application for the optimised EcoGraf non-hydrofluoric acid purification process flowsheet developed during the 2018 test work program. This optimised flowsheet reportedly contains refinements to the 2017 process to satisfy the highest physical and chemical specifications required by anode manufacturers.
In the EcoGraf development update, the company announced that the pilot plant program conducted in Germany over the past 12 months has demonstrated that the purification process is able to constantly produce graphite to battery anode manufacturer specifications at a competitive cost with existing toxic HF supplies. The graphite producer believes that the process can also be applied to a range of existing natural graphite supplies, enabling the facility to start operations without reliance on graphite feedstock from its Epanko project.
Kibaran has eyed the significant support of potential customers to its pilot plant testing along with attracting the interest of prospective partners over joint development of EcoGraf facility in 2019.
Due to strong interest for EcoGraf battery graphite from potential customers during the 2018 product test work program, Kibaran is evaluating for accelerated development and ramp-up options for its first manufacturing facility with the focus on supporting the existing markets of Japan, South Korea, and China.
On top of customers support, the company has demonstrated a substantial reduction in both construction and operating costs based on engineering studies on optimised EcoGraf process flowsheet. The total estimated cost to construct the initial 5,500-tonne facility has been reported to US$19.9 million, representing a 23% reduction on the GR Engineering estimate of US$25.9 million in December 2017. As per the report, it has also been determined that operating costs for the updated flowsheet are 10% lower than previously estimated in 2017, principally due to the reagent, reduced power, and labour costs.
These estimates have been updated by the GR Engineering Services Limited who have re-designed the EcoGraf production flowsheet to incorporate the results of the German pilot plant program. The GR Engineering capital cost estimate for 2019 is reportedly based on the construction of a new production facility located on the to-be-acquired land within an industrial park in Asia, utilizing existing sea and land transport infrastructure, water and power supplies.
Kibaran’s EcoGraf development plan involves setting-up an Asia-Pacific manufacturing plant close to its current markets, with the initial production of 5,500 tonnes of battery graphite, later increasing it to 20,000 tonnes per year or beyond as required to meet customer demand. And by 2025, the company intends to build a second manufacturing plant in Europe to support the massive investment announced by the Government and industry for developing a new sustainable lithium-ion battery supply chain in that region.
With this update, KNL stock price jumped up by 8.333% to last trade at A$0.130 on 5 February 2019. Over the past 12 months, the stock has witnessed a negative trend of 14.29%.
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