Perth-based minerals development company, BlackEarth Minerals NL (ASX: BEM) is primarily focused on fast tracking the development of its flagship Maniry graphite project in the southern region of Madagascar, intended to produce a high purity, large flake product. The Company is currently undertaking several programs to test the suitability of concentrate from its wholly owned project for key target markets including refractory, expandables and lithium-ion battery anode.
In line with its efforts, BEM on 19 May 2020 announced that bulk material from the Maniry project arrived at China and is due for dispatch to the facilities of the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (BGRIMM). Additionally, the Company updated regarding preparations directed towards a drilling program for the high-grade Razafy NW area at the Maniry Graphite Project.
Post the announcement, BEM stock advanced further by 11.765% from its previous close to settle at $0.038 on 19 May 2020. Nearly 516,861 shares were traded during the day against the average volume of 154,921.
BGRIMM Undertaking Two-Stage Test Program
BGRIMM is a China-based national institute, engaged in research & development (R&D) and engineering services, catered towards mining, mineral processing, metallurgy, and recycling of metallic resources, in addition to mineral resource developments and advanced material technology and products.
In October 2019, BEM appointed the institute to perform final testing on graphite ore from the Maniry project, covering all process engineering related matters as part of the Company’s definitive feasibility study (DFS) into the project.
Of the two-stage program, BGRIMM finalised the first stage in first quarter of 2020, highlighting improvements in both graphite recovery and final product grades, thereby further qualifying the Maniry concentrate suitability for the Company’s key targeted markets. The first stage was also intended towards optimising process flow, industrial equipment selection, process operating conditions and reagent systems for the second stage.
For a detailed look on Stage 1 program conducted by the institute, please read BGRIMM Stage 1 Study: Another Milestone Towards Advancing BlackEarth Minerals’ Maniry DFS
The recently delivered bulk material is for the second stage, the large-scale process pilot test, is expected to be completed in three months. Under this stage, BGRIMM will use approximately 60 tonnes of Maniry graphite bearing material, to optimise the Maniry flow sheet and provide final equipment specifications. The test program will also produce sufficient material that BlackEarth Minerals requires to finalise legally binding offtake arrangements that the Company is currently negotiating with various interested parties or Tier 1 players in BEM’s targeted markets.
Results from the second stage will deliver the final process design criteria (PDC) to BFS engineers, who will undertake final engineering design works in 2H 2020. Moreover, the results will provide significant input into the project’s final Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
Preparations Ongoing to Drill Razafy NW Area
BlackEarth Minerals is also engaged in preparations to conduct a drilling program to further understand the high-grade graphite potential that lies to the northwest extension of the Razafy Resource at the Maniry Graphite project. The Company expects to start the drilling program in 2H 2020.
Last year in February, the Company announced to have achieved high-grade assay results from trenching on the NW extension of Razafy, including
- 48m @ 10.22% TGC (Total Graphitic Carbon) Inc. 2.0m @ 19.20% & 6.0m @ 15.10%
- 12.0m @ 13.32% Inc. 6.0m @ 19.43%
The historical trenching across the Razafy Graphite Deposit lenses had proved to provide a fairly accurate representation of the thickness and grade of graphite to be expected during exploration drilling into the lens. Considering this, BEM believes that with a drilling program, the potential of this significant discovery can be converted into an estimated mineral resource, adding high-grade resource tonnes to the Company’s mineral inventory.
The Razafy NW high-grade discovery, part of the ‘Razafy Domain’ and directly along strike from the Razafy Mineral Resource, has extended the known mineralisation within the ‘Razafy Domain’ to >5km in length.
BEM targets to complete DFS into the project in last quarter of 2020, with project commissioning expected in 2021. Given the positive outlook for large flake high-quality graphite for the upcoming 10-15 years, BlackEarth Minerals intends to produce high value, high demand, coarse flake product from its flagship property, thereby delivering value to shareholders.