Vancouver-based Leading Edge Materials has announced the results of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of its Woxna project, demonstrating the potential viability of a Swedish operation producing battery grade anode material using an existing graphite mine and concentrator with the addition of a value-add processing facility offsite.
The vertically integrated Woxna mine-to-anode material project is not only a potential great financial opportunity, but also a viable option to reduce Europe’s reliance on Chinese imports, said Leading Edge CEO Filip Kozlowski on Wednesday.
The PEA proposes using a thermal purification process, which combined with access to low-cost hydropower, offers a low carbon footprint for the project.
The PEA calculates a pretax net present value, using an 8% discount, of $317-million, an internal rate of return of 42.9% and a payback of 2.24 years on initial capital of $121-million.
Over a 15-year life-of-mine, Woxna will produce average coated spherical purified graphite product of 7 435 t/y and micronized graphite product of 8 421 t/y.
The PEA only uses the Kringel deposit, which has already been developed as an existing mine with a partially exploited openpit. Woxna, however, holds four separate deposits under exploitation concessions with additional surrounding exploration licences. A processing plant, tailings storage facility, office and other buildings are adjacent to the Kringel deposit.
Leading Edge gained 4% on the TSX-V on Wednesday, closing at C$0.22 a share.
To evaluate upgrading the graphite concentrate to higher value products, the PEA uses an existing industrial brownfields site in the town of Edsbyn. The value-add facility receives the graphite concentrate, which is milled, spheronised and classified to a particle size of d50 at 15 micrometre. The particles are then thermally treated in high temperatures to bring purity up to at least 99.95%, which is the minimum requirement to be suitable for use in lithium-ion battery applications.
Spherical purified graphite is coated with a carbon material with further thermal treatment to produce a suitable active anode material suitable for electric vehicle applications.