The initial test work shows an increase in the percentage of high-priced (+30 size and +50 size) graphite flake and a reduction mainly in the lower-priced fine graphite flake, which could improve sales revenue from Bunyu graphite products.
Volt chief executive officer Trevor Matthews said: “We are delighted with these initial test work results provided by American Energy Technologies Company (AETC) which confirm that Bunyu’s flake distribution is suitable for supply to traditional markets and for use in new high demand applications such as battery anode end markets.
“Given these latest results, we expect to be able to make significant improvements to the project economics outlined in the stage one feasibility study for Bunyu, with further details on these changes to be provided in due course.”
AETC used a representative sample of ore from drilling completed as part of the stage one feasibility study to conduct the test work.
Test work results
The scope was to prepare a graphite product from the Bunyu ore sample and to analyse the product for certain physical, chemical and processing properties to provide information for its suitability for several graphite markets including as anode feedstock for Li-ion cells.
Key results include:
- Production of a 99.95% thermally purified graphite product suitable for a number of end-uses including battery anode material feedstock,
- Inductively coupled plasma analysis which identified very low boron levels in the thermally purified graphite which makes the Bunyu product suitable for nuclear industry components and as a feedstock in the manufacture of synthetic diamonds, and
- Excellent preliminary Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET), Scott volume and tap density measures which point to the Bunyu graphite product being a good quality feedstock for Li-ion battery cell anode material.
The company will conduct further analysis and test work and, if the benefits in flake size distribution continue (and there is sufficient time available), the next steps would be to incorporate the changes into the stage one flowsheet design and change the processing reagents.
Bunyu Project location
Stage one funding
The operating and capital cost changes to the current stage one plant are expected to be minimal and more than offset by the substantial increase in sales revenue.
Volt is also continuing to advance its Mauritian Note Offer to raise up to US$30 million and source alternative finance options to fund stage one development.
Matthews said: “Our Stage 1 funding initiatives continue to advance, even in light of the current COVID-19 crisis which is causing delays in the process, and I look forward to providing updates on our Mauritian Note Offer and other funding sources in due course.”
Stage one of the project will produce on average 23,700 tonnes per annum of natural flake graphite product at up to 96% total graphite content.