Graphite mine developer Kibaran Resources said it has made a major breakthrough in the production of battery-grade graphite using a new environmentally-friendly process that eliminates the use of toxic chemicals.
The graphite purification method uses only non-toxic simple acids that are readily available in Tanzania and eliminates the use of hydrofluoric acid which the company says is currently used by all producers of battery spherical graphite.
The eco-friendly process results from test work and the favourable mineralogy at the company’s Epanko deposit in Tanzania. A purification process flowsheet is being optimized to finalize the operating costs. The expectation is that capital and operating costs will be low. Patenting of the purification process is now being investigated.
Kibaran said it is in discussions with leading anode manufacturers in China, Japan and Korea, and has received positive feedback on the properties of its Epanko graphite.
The company said the eco-friendly process meets International Finance Corporation principles and World Bank Group standards. It believes an environmentally friendly production process for battery-grade graphite will be a future requirement from anode material and battery producers.
Managing director Andrew Spinks said the new process will assist Kibaran to secure a large portion of the battery graphite market.
He also said the outlook is strengthening for natural flake graphite and battery spherical graphite prices due to increasing installation of anode manufacturing capacity to meet expected demand; increasing prices due to Government environmental pressure on graphite producers in China for both natural flake graphite and synthetic graphite; and a market shortage of high-quality battery-grade graphite.
Given the increased demand, the company is revising its feasibility study for the production of battery-grade graphite. The spherical graphite feasibility study is expected to be completed this quarter after the finalization of the optimization work for the purification process and expanded production.
Mr Spinks said the recent announcements by major car manufacturers about their shift to electric vehicles will lead to an even larger demand for graphite. (ASX: KNL).