Australia-based minerals development company, BlackEarth Minerals NL (ASX: BEM) is primarily focused on fast tracking the development of its wholly owned flagship Maniry graphite project in southern Madagascar. The Company aims to finalise the feasibility study into the project during calendar year 2020, with project commissioning targeted in the following year. BEM, on 29 April 2020, released its March Quarter 2020 Report.
March Quarter 2020 – Key Highlights
BEM received highly encouraging results from testwork undertaken on Maniry graphite concentrate during the three-month period ended 31 March 2020, which further boosted the project’s potential to produce a high purity, large flake product that is suitable for the Company’s key target markets.
ANZAPLAN Testwork: Maniry Graphite Anode Suitability Established
The Company had engaged Dorfner ANZAPLAN in May 2019 to undertake an expansive testwork program to assess the suitability of Maniry graphite concentrate for use as graphite anode in lithium-ion batteries.
During the March 2020 quarter, BEM received the final testwork report, which indicated that the concentrate produced results that were similar to a high-performance purified spherical graphite reference material used by the German company. The high-performance material signifies a reference material that is in the upper 3rd of quality materials utilised in anode application.
Testwork result highlights-
- Maniry graphite material can be successfully spheronised and purified by industry standard methodologies;
- Initial electrochemical testwork on spheronised purified graphite (uncoated) has demonstrated the product suitability for lithium-ion batteries.
Must Read: BlackEarth Minerals’ Maniry Graphite Suitable for EV Batteries, Says Evaluation Testwork Program undertaken by Dorfner ANZAPLAN, which is an independent full-service company, specialising in delivering testing and engineering services, based in Germany.
BGRIMM Stage 1 Program Further Boosts Product Suitability
Beijing General Research Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (BGRIMM) is working towards finalising all process engineering related matters under two stages, as part of definitive feasibility study (DFS) on the project.
During the quarter the Company witnessed the completion of the first stage program involving testwork on a 250kg sample from the trial mining test pit, highlighting improvements in both graphite recovery and final product grades. The first stage completion was a milestone for the Company, qualifying the Maniry concentrate suitability for refractory, expandable and lithium-ion battery anode markets as a high purity, large flake product.
The second stage program, planned to be completed in the third quarter of 2020, will involve testwork on approximately 60 tonnes of Maniry graphite ore. The results of this stage are of an extreme importance to the Company, as it seeks to finalise DFS and legally binding offtake arrangements.
To know about the two-stage testwork program being undertaken by BGRIMM in detail, in addition to first stage test work findings, please read BGRIMM Stage 1 Study: Another Milestone Towards Advancing BlackEarth Minerals’ Maniry DFS.
BTR New Energy to Undertake Battery Anode Evaluation Testwork
BEM also received sample endorsement from Shenzhen-based BTR New Energy, which is a global tier 1 natural graphite spheronising/anode producing company, during the quarter, further highlighting the product quality of the Company’s product range capable of being produced at its flagship property.
The testwork undertaken by BTR comprised of graphite concentrate, - 150 microns and > 95%C, produced as part of the BGRIMM Stage 1 pilot program, with the results demonstrating very low impurity content in the concentrate as a distinct advantage.
BTR has agreed to undertake a next stage testwork program to evaluate battery anode suitability of the Maniry concentrate after the successful initial test work results, with BEM requiring to send a larger concentrate sample to the former’s testing facilities in Shenzhen. The testwork would be targeted towards evaluating the concentrate sample as potential future feed to BTR’s production plants for spheronising and LiB anode.
Coronavirus pandemic continues to haunt the globe with its fast pace growth day by day, consequently, BEM has also implemented protocols in response to this infectious spread.
- To ensure health and well-being of its employees, the Company rolled out procedures for travel to and from its site in Madagascar and for site-based activities.
- BEM adopted a work program deferring all non-essential spending, in line with government restrictions on personnel movements and capital market volatility.
- Subsequent to the end of March quarter, Managing Director’s salary reduced by 25% and Directors resolved to reduce wages and fees by up to 50%.
- Additionally, wherever possible, BEM would continue to implement overhead reductions.
Though the Company’s primary focus remains on the Maniry and Ianapera graphite projects located in Madagascar, BEM is also reviewing its Donnelly River tenements. Given the encouraging testwork results, the Company is continuing offtake agreement discussions with leading manufacturers in the fields of expandable products, refractories and lithium ion batteries.
On 29 April 2020 (AEST 03:50), BEM was trading at $0.030.