MRL Corporation (ASX: MRF) is on track to start production from its Aluketiya graphite project in Sri Lanka in the September quarter 2015 after drilling returned assays of up to 99.3% Total graphitic carbon.
Rehabilitation and construction work on two historic shafts at Aluketiya is set to start in March and will take about two months to complete.
Last week, the company noted that metallurgical test work has shown that Aluketiya graphite exceeds the grades required for use in lithium batteries.
Sri Lanka is famed for being the only commercial producer of crystalline vein graphite and is among the highest quality of naturally occurring material in the world.
Typical high-grade Sri Lankan graphite achieves a greater recovery rate than most disseminated flake graphite deposits due to its reduced physical processing requirement and much higher starting TGC purity.
Six holes were drilled at the project with the majority returning assays above 90%TGC.
Aluketiya is one of five key project areas that comprise MRL’s 6,300 hectare portfolio.
It is located in Meegahatenna within the Walallawita District, which is considered one of the richest graphite-bearing areas in the country, about two hours from the country’s capital and primary port, Colombo.
The project has potential for graphite veins extending over large distances.
Extensive veins of high-grade graphite are visible from surface but the area has not been subjected to any modern exploration techniques.
An Industrial Mining Licence has already been granted over the Property
A three hole diamond drilling program will commence within days with the aim of establishing the presence of further graphite mineralisation and sterilising other areas.
MRL expects the Aluketiya Licence will host up to three development areas comprising the rehabilitation of shafts “D” and “H” and a new adit.
Testing conducted at the Wuhan University of Technology found graphite from MRL’s Aluketiya project in Sri Lanka contained 99.98% Total Graphitic Carbon (TGC).
This is impressive given it was carried out on low grade unprocessed bulk sample material from Aluketiya using an acid leaching process.
Additional test work will be conducted to refine the process flow sheet and provide more detail on the suitability of MRL’s graphite for premium-end product use.
Testing is ongoing with a view to simplifying the metallurgical flow sheet and achieving grade of at least 99.95% TGC though acid leaching techniques.
MRL is aiming to develop an underground mining operation to extract high-grade, crystalline vein graphite, which is unique to Sri Lanka.
MRL Corporation is on track to receive early cash flow from its Aluketiya Graphite Project with the company targeting a September quarter start to production.
Drilling at Aluketiya has returned assays of up to 99.3%TGC, while testwork has confirmed the graphite exceeds the grades required for use in lithium ion battery anodes.
Aluketiya will be an underground mining operation to extract high-grade, crystalline vein graphite, the purest form of graphite with TGC grades typically >90% TGC.
This focus is expected to drastically lowers capex and opex. It also grants MRL the potential to sell run of mine.
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