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Africa graphite projects making progress

06 Feb 2018 16:42 GMT
Africa graphite projects making progress

Cape Town, 6 February (Argus) — African graphite projects in Tanzania, Guinea and Madagascar are being rapidly developed to take advantage of growing demand from battery makers and other applications.

Australia-based Walkabout Resources and Kilbaran Resources are respectively developing the Lindi Jumbo and Apanko projects in Tanzania. Changes to mining legislation caused widespread concern late last year, but seem to have been resolved.

Walkabout's Lindi Jumbo project is development-ready. It is expected to take seven to nine months to progress to production once a mining licence is granted, the company's executive director Allan Mulligan said.

Offtake agreements are in place for 75pc of output which is expected to start at 28,000 t/yr and grow to steady state output of 40,000 t/yr. The project's Chinese offtake partner is building an on-site processing plant financed by the Chinese government. Offtake is also allocated for Germany.

Kilbaran Resources' Alpanko project is focusing on supplying battery grade graphite to Japan, South Korea and Germany. A pilot plant is expected to be built in Germany.

"There will be a major rollout of electric vehicles in Japan in 2020 when anode requirements will reach around 66,000 t/yr, of which we hope to supply around 30pc," chief executive Andrew Spinks said.

The company's battery grade graphite has been tested by anode manufacturers in Japan, China and South Korea. Over the remainder of 2018, the focus will be on developing the Apanko mine and a battery manufacturing facility.

Canada-based SRG Graphite's Lola project in Guinea, West Africa, is discussing offtake possibilities with battery makers in China, Japan and the US, its chairman Benoit La Salle said. Construction of the project is expected to start in early 2019 after the completion of a definitive feasibility study this year.

"We are aiming to tie up 60-70pc of battery grade graphite supply in offtake agreements before starting construction," he said.

Madagascar-focused Tirupati Graphite expects to produce 22,800t of graphite from its Vatomina project in 2018, growing to 76,800 t/yr by 2020 through the addition of 54,000 t/yr of capacity. A mineral resource estimate is expected next month, increasing to 40-50mn t from the current resource of 30mn t.

Tirupati is developing the Sahamany Sahasoa project in Madagascar as part of its modular approach to increasing capacity and output, managing director Shishir Poddar said.

"There is strong demand for flake graphite not only from battery makers but also for other industrial applications," he said.