PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Syrah Resources on Thursday said that it was assessing the potential restart of its Balama graphite project, in Mozambique, and would take into consideration travel restrictions and an improved natural graphite market balance.
Syrah in March of last year suspended production at Balama owing to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically travel restrictions which limited the mobility of the Balama workforce, as well as weak end-user demand owing to lockdowns and economic uncertainty which impacted electric vehicle sales.
The company told shareholders on Thursday that Balama is positioned to preserve cash during its temporary production suspension, while also retaining operating and market capability to promptly restart operations once a decision is taken.
Restart lead time is expected to be between two and three months, post a restart decision.
Syrah said that it would continue to assess options to further reduce the operation cost base and improve the environmental and social governance credentials of the operation, upon the restart of production.
To this end, Syrah has inked a memorandum of understanding with Solar Century Africa to progress a solar and battery storage hybrid power system to work in conjunction with the existing diesel generation power plant at Balama.
Meanwhile, during the quarter ended December, Syrah produced its first active anode material (AAM) at its Vidalia facility, in the US, via a toll processing of purified spherical graphite.
The company is using tolling to accelerate the provision of material to potential customers ahead of the installation of a furnace at Vidalia in the first quarter of this year, which is expected to enable AAM production of equivalent specification to the toll produced material.
Syrah in the December quarter completed a bankable feasibility study into the expansion of its AAM production facility, which confirmed that 10 000 t/y of AAM could be produced through the expansion of existing plant and infrastructure at Syrah’s 25-acre industrial site.
The facility currently has a production capacity of 5 000 t/y of unpurified spherical graphite and 200 t/y of purified spherical graphite to battery specification.
A final investment decision for the construction of the enlarged plant is planned for the second half of 2021, subject to end customer commitments and financial partnerships.