- Mahenge Graphite Project enhanced DFS released in July 2019;
- Large-scale spheronising and purification trial completed in August 2019;
- Equity placement to raise $3 million used to progress Mahenge financing activities; and
- John De Vries promoted to managing director in September 2019
What does Black Rock do?
It’s flagship Mahenge Graphite Project, spread across 324 square kilometres of exploration tenements in Tanzania’s Ulanga district, has a mineral resource estimate of 212 million tonnes at 7.8% TGC inclusive of ore reserves of 70 million tonnes at 8.5% TGC.
These reserves support a mine life of up to 350,000 tonnes of graphite per annum for a reserve life of 16 years.
The company is led by managing director and CEO John de Vries, a mining engineer with more than 30 years’ experience in leading multi-disciplinary teams in the mining and support industries.
De Vries’ focus is on building shareholder value by delivering a mine that builds and supports the Tanzanian community.
Black Rock has secured the services of CPC Engineering and Yantai Jinyuan Group, a major Chinese mining machinery group, to design and build the process plant, both of whom have significant experience in graphite and Africa-specific skills.
In August 2019 the company raised $3 million in an oversubscribed placement of more than 42.8 million shares at 7 cents per share to professional and institutional investors.
Placement proceeds have been spent towards financing and final permitting activities to progress the Mahenge project to construction-readiness by support from debt advisors, Ironstone Capital (ICA).
During 2019 Black Rock completed a large-scale spheronising and purification trial using 400 kilograms of sub-80 mesh concentrate generated during the March 2019 pilot plant run.
The trial demonstrated a yield to a final product of 48% and 53% with a final purity of 99.98% total graphite content (TGC) using commercial-scale equipment in commercial processing conditions.
These outcomes substantially exceed Chinese industry benchmark yields of 35-45% and purity of 99.95% TGC while using standard equipment and techniques.
The trials were conducted at Inner Mongolia Ruisheng New Material Co Ltd (a commercial producer) and at Wuhan University of Technology (a Chinese research facility).
Using a commercial producer and a Chinese research facility ensured comparability between Western and Chinese laboratory results and confirmed the product would perform when scaled up in a commercial facility typical of Black Rock’s potential customer base.
What does Black Rock own?
The key asset is the wholly-owned and licenced Mahenge Graphite Project which is 400 kilometres southwest of the country’s principal port at Dar es Salaam.
Mahenge is only 70 kilometres by road from a Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority rail network that runs direct to the port.
In July 2019, Black Rock enhanced the definitive feasibility study (DFS) which includes a fourth production module and a compressed development schedule that is now subject to financing and confirmation of the 16% Tanzanian government free carried interest.
The enhanced DFS was completed in response to product demand and feedback from customers as well as financial markets for a more aggressive production schedule and de-risked commissioning plan.
It includes the provision for a fourth production module of 85,000-tonne capacity, increasing eventual steady-state production to 340,000-350,000 tonnes of concentrate per annum.
The development schedule now considers four production modules each, coming online annually after the first module, rather than three modules every two years as in the original DFS published in October 2018.
Next steps include the continued progression of financing discussions, detailed engineering for the construction phase and confirmation of the 16% Tanzanian government free carried interest.
Managing director and CEO John de Vries stated in a letter to shareholders on January 15 that following discussions with government parties in Tanzania during a trip over the Christmas and New Year period, he believes significant progress is being made due to the adoption of a whole-of-government perspective for the Mahenge Graphite Project.
He said the company was better placed both technically and strategically than almost all other graphite project proponents globally to successfully build, commission and ramp-up a world-class mining operation.
“We are deliberately positioning Black Rock and the Mahenge project to be utilised by the Tanzanian Government in the short-term as the project permitting model for all other industry participants.
“The level of engagement we have had in recent months through this approach has been outstanding.
“Adopting a whole-of-government perspective has meant that we have received active engagement from all levels of the Tanzanian Government.
“Black Rock plans to remain proactive and continue to seek to add shareholder value where appropriate.”