TSX-V-listed Leading Edge Materials has had discussions with European customers that confirm that large sample volumes and commercial scale processes are necessary if battery materials are to gain industrial qualification.
Leading Edge is positioning its Woxna graphite mine, in Sweden, to deliver the required volume of graphite anode material (used in lithium ion batteries) for testing by multiple prospective customers during 2019.
To help achieve this, the company has completed an internal conceptual study to benchmark the suitability of the Woxna site and define the necessary research and engineering steps.
Subject to finance and satisfactory technical results, Leading Edge intends to operate a battery graphite demonstration plant at Woxna to promote engagement with future customers.
The proposed demonstration plant will be of a scale that will produce near-commercial quantities of graphite anode materials, while enabling real-time process optimisation and definition of critical economic parameters.
As a fully built mine, Leading Edge says Woxna has excellent infrastructure, access to all utilities, and is well suited for both demonstration scale and commercial scale plant installations.
Moreover, the internal conceptual study has recommended that further laboratory scale testing of thermal purification is required. This testwork could define how furnace operating parameters influence product quality and allow for a trade-off study that will direct the design of the battery graphite demonstration plant.
Further spheronising testwork is recommended to constrain technical specifications and select operating equipment.
Both the purification and spheronising testwork is under way. Results of the testwork will allow right specifications to be shared with equipment manufacturers when quoting on equipment for the proposed battery graphite demonstration plant.
The majority of the testwork results are expected in the third quarter, with design for the demonstration plant expected to start in the fourth quarter.
Leading Edge president and CEO Blair Way stated that recommendations of the internal study take advantage of a fully built graphite mine.
Subject to technical results and financing, this work will place Woxna on a clear path to providing the battery industry with the volume of anode material needed for testing, qualification and establishment of offtake agreements.
“While laboratory scale testwork is critical to establish process boundaries, it is only through a demonstration plant that both process and product can be meaningfully assessed.
“We are now progressing the laboratory scale testwork so that Woxna is positioned to supply substantial quantities of lithium ion battery anode material to potential customers in 2019,” Way concluded.