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Balama graphite project, Mozambique – update

Aerial view of the Balama graphite project

Photo by Syrah Resources

13th October 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Balama graphite project.

Location
Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.

Project Owner/s
Syrah Resources.

Project Description
Balama is one of the highest-grade, large-flake deposits globally. The project has mineral reserves of 108-million tonnes grading 16% total graphitic carbon (TGC) and mineral resources of 1.42-billion tonnes grading 10% TGC.

The project will be a high-grade, openpit operation using conventional mining methods with an extremely low stripping ratio. Operations will start with free-dig mining within the high-grade pits of Balama West using conventional truck-and-shovel mining. Operations will shift to the pits in Balama East thereafter.

The processing plant will have a feed rate of two-million tonnes a year using conventional processes, including crushing and screening, grinding, flotation, filtration and drying, as well as classification, screening and bagging.

Graphite concentrate will be transported using a sealed highway south-east of the project and shipped at the Port of Nacala, about 490 km away.

The mine is expected to produce an average of 365 000 t/y of graphite concentrate during its first ten years of production. Balama has a 50-year mine life.

The mine’s production will be sold to traditional industrial graphite markets and emerging technology markets.

Syrah also intends to pursue its downstream strategy, which involves further processing of flake graphite from Balama into spherical graphite at a plant in Louisiana, in the US. Spherical graphite is a high-margin, value-added product that is currently in significant demand, owing to its use in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicle and energy-storage applications.

Potential Job Creation
The labour contingent increased to 499 staff in the quarter ended June 2021, excluding contractors.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
Based on the assumptions used in the feasibility study dated May 2015, the  project has a post-tax net present value, at a 10% discount rate, of $1.1-billion and an internal rate of return of 71%, with a payback period of less than two years from the start of commercial production.

Capital Expenditure
Not stated.

Planned Start/End Date
Not stated.

Latest Developments
Syrah Resources has achieved full operation of its solar and battery hybrid system.

The 11.25 MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) array, which incorporates 20 832 solar modules with a surface area of 53 800 m2, has been fully integrated with an 8.5 MW/MWh battery energy storage system.

The solar and battery system is expected to contribute at least 35% of Balama’s average site power requirements, significantly reducing diesel consumption and product carbon equivalent emissions at the mine and yielding associated cost savings.

The solar and battery system can supply Balama’s power requirements during peak daylight times with the plant operating, and continuously if the plant is not operating. It’s diesel power generation plant (diesel generator sets) will provide baseload power requirements overnight and incremental power requirements during daylight hours considering solar irradiation, power availability from the solar and battery hybrid system, and overall site power demand.

During operational testing over ten days during Balama’s recent production campaign, integrated power supply from the solar and battery hybrid system, and diesel gensets, achieved 33% of the total power draw supplied by the solar and battery hybrid system, along with 34% average savings in diesel consumption per kilowatt hour power generated, equating to about 16 000 ℓ/d of diesel savings.

The solar and battery hybrid system powered the plant and site for about eight hours a day, on average, during daylight hours.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
CPC Engineering (detailed engineering and design).

Contact Details for Project Information
Syrah Resources GM – investor relations John Knowles, tel +61 419 893 491 or email ljknowles@optusnet.com.au.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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