BlackEarth Minerals NL (ASX: BEM) (“BlackEarth”, the “Company”) is pleased to provide an update on testing and offtake discussions for the Maniry Graphite Project (the “Project”) in southern Madagascar.
The Company is pleased to report that ongoing testing and discussions with world leading refractory and expandable graphite producers, has continued to yield positive results from graphite concentrate samples from the Maniry project, as the Company continues to progress in formalising offtake partner agreements. BlackEarth is predominantly targeting the refractory and expandable applications, however the Company has also conducted testing on fine graphite materials used in the production of spherical graphite for lithium-ion batteries, with discussion also ongoing with leading producers of lithium-ion battery anodes.
As part of the Company’s strategy to fast track the Maniry graphite project in southern Madagascar, BlackEarth has strategically targeted Tier 1 Chinese and international companies that are both commercial and technical industry leaders in the global graphite market. Through the Consultancy Agreement with Australia Minerals & Resources (“AustMin”) (ASX Release – 1 May 2019), BlackEarth has established good business relationships with these global graphite players and has received highly positive feedback from testing, thereby accelerating offtake partnership discussions.
BlackEarth recently received feedback from the world’s largest producer of expandable graphite products (the “Producer”) reporting that excellent expansion rates and quality were achieved from testing on BlackEarth’s coarse flake graphite samples. This feedback provides further validation that BlackEarth’s graphite is suitable for sale as a high value product to the rapidly growing expandable graphite market.
Further to this, the Producer also reported that impurity content such as mica in BlackEarth’s natural graphite concentrate was significantly lower when compared to other natural graphite concentrate imported from overseas suppliers, and will be further reduced following some additional process optimization work.
The Producer also confirmed that BEM’s coarse flake graphite is highly suitable for, and meet all quality specifications, for expandable graphite production, in addition to raw material to produce superior quality fire retardants, high quality graphite foil and sealing materials, all of which are highly lucrative markets.
The Producer has agreed to work with BEM to ensure its ability to consistently meet high end specifications requirements on a long term basis. The price difference between fine graphite concentrate and high value expandable graphite can be in excess of US$1000/t, hence this feedback and support from a world leader in the global graphite market is further validation of the financial viability of the Maniry graphite project.