BlackEarth Minerals NL (ASX:BEM) has obtained a graphitic carbon concentrate of plus-96% total graphite content (TGC) from initial metallurgical test work on samples from its Maniry Graphite Project in Madagascar.
The test work was conducted on diamond drill core samples taken from the Razafy resource within Maniry and the results will support flowsheet design for Maniry's upcoming scoping study.
According to London-based Benchmark Mineral Intelligence data, graphite concentrates at this level can attract US$100-200 premiums over comparable flake sizes at 90-95% TGC.
BlackEarth managing director Tom Revy said: "These preliminary results provide additional hard data that materials from the Razafy resource produces a high-quality, large flake size product, which currently attracts a premium price in global graphite markets.
"This complements and vindicates our detailed mineralogical and petrological assessment carried out earlier this year.
"The company is now fast-tracking the scoping study due to be completed in December 2018."
Potentially reduced processing costs
The metallurgical work included testing composite samples from diamond drilling with head grades ranging from 8.04% to 9.39% TGC, including a master composite with a head grade of 9% TGC.
A pair of comminution composites were also tested, showing low-to-moderate ore hardness and competency which reflects the high-depth of weathering and can potentially reduce processing costs.
First-pass metallurgical test work showed excellent results, with initial flotation tests on the master composite achieving a high-grade concentrate of 96% TGC with recoveries above 90%.
Growing demand for graphite applications
High-grade graphite is essential to the production of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles while large-flake graphite is a key component in the next generation of fire-retardant building materials.
Both of these key applications are forecast to grow over the coming years.
China is anticipated to require a total of 40 million tonnes per annum of fire-retardant building materials, which may provide significant demand for the Razafy large-flake graphite.
BlackEarth understands China's large-flake graphite reserves to be diminishing and recognises an opportunity to help meet this demand as a premium global graphite supplier.