JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The board of ASX-listed Kibaran Resources has approved the spherical graphite pilot plant programme at a plant in Germany, using feedstock from the Epanko graphite project, in Tanzania.
Funded through available working capital, the initial testwork programme aims to optimise the spherical graphite production process for Epanko feedstock; confirm the suitability of other graphite feedstocks for use in the Kibaran spherical graphite process; and complete customer prequalification processes for product sales.
Application of the company’s new purification process to a range of feedstocks will significantly increase its commercial value and ensure that the initial pilot plant investment is fully used prior to the start of graphite production at Epanko.
Following the programme, the German pilot plant will be expanded into a small commercial facility, capable of supplying up to 600 t/y of unpurified spherical graphite products to customers. There are a number of investment incentives offered to support such programmes and Kibaran is currently discussing potential funding support with two German government trade organisations.
The company’s decision to progress with the pilot plant coincides with Germany’s Mineral Resources Agency and the German Industrial Association both recently reporting that the potential future shortage of battery minerals poses a major threat to the development of the country’s electric automobile industry.
During the second phase of the programme, information obtained from the pilot plant programme will be used to design and engineer a full commercial scale operation to supply purified spherical graphite products to customers in Europe and Asia.
Based on the company’s downstream processing feasibility study, this plant will initially produce 5 000 t/y of spherical graphite and progressively expand to 20 000 t/y to meet the forecast demand growth for graphite products.
Meanwhile, Kibaran reports that discussions have recently started with several groups about participation in the company’s downstream processing operations, investment and the location of the proposed commercial scale plant(s).
Kibaran plans to establish the new downstream processing operations in parallel with the development of Epanko, for which meetings are continuing with the government to finalise regulatory and project financing arrangements.