The ERMA was formed by the EU in 2020 and focuses on the development and strengthening of European raw materials value chains, giving members access to project investment as well as technical and regulatory advice and support.
The move comes after Volt completed its transition into the graphite industry with the acquisition of a 70% controlling stake in the Ukrainian Zavalievsky Group (ZG) of companies.
It has also been welcomed by investors with shares as much as 13 per cent higher to A$0.035.
Now a graphite producer
Volt had previously joined the European Battery Alliance, and Volt managing director Trevor Matthews said the company was now on the map in Europe.
“With the acquisition of the Zavalievsky graphite business completed and our status as a producer of graphite products in Europe, membership of the two key EU sponsored battery materials alliances provide the opportunity to build relationships and obtain access to capital to support the expansion and product development plans for the European graphite business,” he said.
“Combined with the future production of graphite products from the development-ready Bunyu Project in Tanzania and plans for processing capacity to supply the LIB industry in the United States, we will be uniquely positioned as a globally significant and diversified graphite producer.”
Volt’s role in raw materials
The ERMA network is a group of public and private companies covering the entire raw materials value chain and seeks to boost Europe’s capacity to sustainably create batteries, fuel cells, rare earth magnets and motors.
It is also expanding beyond the European Union; the EU and Ukraine have launched a strategic partnership on raw materials, with the aim of achieving a closer integration of raw materials and batteries value chains to help diversify, strengthen and secure both sides' supply of critical raw materials, essential for achieving the green and digital transitions.
This is where Volt comes in. Its acquisition of the controlling stake in the ZG Group gave it access to graphite mine and processing facilities adjacent to the town of Zavallya, about 280 kilometres south of the Ukraine capital Kyiv and 230 kilometres north of the main port of Odessa.
Project production capacity is up to 30,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate or product per year; in 2014 ZG was the eighth largest producer of natural flake graphite in the world, although production has fallen significantly of late due to low investment, graphite oversupply and COVID-19.
“We plan to improve the performance of the business with close attention to improved environmental management and sustainable operations including programs to minimise the operation’s carbon footprint, development of stakeholder relationships and social investment combined with improved governance throughout ZG,” Matthews said.
The Zavalievsky graphite business has the following advantages for Volt:
- Located in Eastern Europe in close proximity to key markets with significant developments in LIB facilities planned to service the European based car makers and renewable energy sector;
- Plans to produce battery anode material using existing graphite production to become a fully integrated supplier to LIB cell makers based in Europe;
- Makes graphite products across the range and has the potential to significantly increase its high-value large flake production;
- Produces a high value ‘green’ purified 99.5% TGC product;
- Long-life multi-decade producing mine that has further exploration upside;
- Existing customer base and graphite product supply chains which Volt expects to be able to leverage in developing its existing Bunyu graphite project in Tanzania;
- Excellent transport infrastructure covering road, rail, river and sea freight combined with reliable grid power, ample potable groundwater supply and good communications;
- An experienced workforce that can assist with training, commissioning and ramp-up for the Bunyu graphite project development;
- Potential to generate material cashflow which could make Volt internally funded for corporate costs and working capital into the future;
- Co-products of quarry stone for the domestic market and garnet for the European market that could generate material cash flow for relatively low capital; and
- A 79% interest in 636 hectares of freehold land, with the mine, processing plant and other buildings and facilities located on that land.
- Daniel Paproth