ASX listed metals & mining player, BlackEarth Minerals NL (ASX: BEM), is fully focused on developing its graphite project portfolio in Madagascar, Africa. The Company’s two Madagascan graphite projects, Maniry and Ianapera, reflect the Company’s focus on flake graphite, backed by the anticipated deficit for flake graphite on a global level by 2023. Madagascar is already a well-established producer of very large size flake graphite with over 100+ years of graphite history, recent mining transactions and developments, and the ability to finance projects.
Maniry is the Company’s flagship graphite project, for which BlackEarth has reported several encouraging updates, including:
- Appointment of the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (BGRIMM) In China to perform final testing on graphite ore from the Maniry project in October 2019;
- Achievement of high purity graphite anode material from the Maniry project concentrate;
- Spherical graphite from the project meeting specifications consistent with those required by lithium ion anode material manufacturers;
- Madagascan government support in June 2019 for fast tracking the Maniry Project.
These developments have enabled BlackEarth to progress towards executing offtake agreements in China, the Asian behemoth, which is already a net flake graphite importer, particularly from Africa.
Test Work by Potential Chinese Offtake Partners
On 16 October 2019, BlackEarth Minerals announced to have dispatched graphite concentrate samples from the Maniry Graphite Project to potential offtake Chinese partners operating in the expandables, battery anode and high-end refractory markets. The samples that have been submitted to the potential offtake partners were obtained under the second bulk sample metallurgical test work program of BEM, which was successfully completed at ALS in Perth.
Testing of Maniry Concentrate at ALS Perth (Source: Company’s Report)
The latest development, that is the dispatch of the sample to several tier 1 end users in China, highlights an important step in the qualification process. The test work to be conducted by these partners will be targeted towards confirming the suitability of the concentrate for use in industry specific applications, such as expandables, battery anode and high-end refractory markets.
Graphite is expected to register strong growth from the battery market, owing to robust growth in demand for electric vehicles and energy storage. Further to this, expandable graphite has applications in fire retardant building materials, for which the market is projected to reach ~ AUD 400 million by 2026. Graphite is also a mainstay component used in crucibles/refractories, steel production and lubricants. All of these projections highlight why several players are eyeing the graphite market.
BEM will use the data obtained from in-house test work by offtake partners to validate the results achieved at ALS Perth and German graphite product testing laboratories, for which the Company had earlier reported above industry average expandable results and high purity graphite anode material from its Maniry Graphite Project concentrate.
For ALS Perth results, click here.
Read more about German graphite product testing results here.
With positive results from the ore sample testing by potential offtake Chinese partners, BEM is expecting to execute a Memorandum of Understanding with suitable offtake partners, followed by entering into binding offtake arrangements.
BlackEarth Minerals NL is targeting to finalise the feasibility study for the southern Madagascar project - Maniry – in the next year, 2020. Additionally, the company is expecting project commissioning in the subsequent year, 2021.
BEM was trading at AUD 0.050 (AEST: 1:51 PM, 21 October 2019). The company has a market cap of AUD 5.88 million with approximately 113 million shares on issue.
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