NextSource's Molo mine produces first SuperFlake graphite concentrate

22nd June 2023 By: Creamer Media Reporter

NextSource's Molo mine produces first SuperFlake graphite concentrate

Molo mine employees with the first tonne of SuperFlake concentrate produced at the mine

TSX-listed NextSource Materials has produced its first SuperFlake graphite concentrate at the Molo mine, in Madagascar.

The first tonne of production comprises +48 mesh jumbo size, or SuperFlake, graphite.

“First production of our SuperFlake graphite is a significant achievement for NextSource and a testament to the dedication and hard work of our commissioning and operations teams, our employees and contractors, as well as the ongoing support that we have received from the local community and government.

"As we ramp up the production stage of operations, the company is in the enviable position of transitioning into a significant and sustainable global producer of high-quality graphite and anode material just as demand for their use in lithium-ion batteries is growing exponentially," comments president and CEO Craig Scherba.

Since initiation of plant commissioning in March, the commissioning and operations teams at the mine have progressed methodically through debottlenecking and optimisation activities.

The operations team will now shift their focus to ramping up the plant throughput to its nameplate capacity of 17 000 t/y.

NextSource expects to sell all the flake graphite produced at the Molo mine to key customers under existing offtake agreements, which include Germany’s thyssenkrupp Materials Trading and the company’s Japanese technical partner, which is the main supplier of value-added graphite to Japan’s largest anode processor that, in turn, supplies multiple Japanese and international original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with graphite anode material.

NextSource is continuing discussions with several major electric vehicle (EV) companies and has received requests for multi-tonne samples of battery anode material as part of the OEMs' qualification process.

As such, the company will begin sending flake graphite qualifying material to its battery anode facility (BAF) technical partners for conversion into coated, spheronised, purified graphite (CSPG), which is the final form of anode material that is assembled along with cathode material into finished lithium-ion batteries used in EV applications.

NextSource in February announced its strategy for the staged buildout of a series of BAFs in key geographic locations. The BAFs are value-added processing facilities that convert flake graphite into CSPG.  

The first BAF will be established in Mauritius. A technical study for the BAF, with an initial production capacity of 3 600 t/y of CSPG estimated initial capital costs and working capital investments of $32.8-million would be needed.

Revenue would reach $33.7-million a year and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation $13.2-million.

NextSource expects to start a 12-month construction process in the third quarter of this year, subject to obtaining the necessary funding, completion of the front-end engineering design study and completion of the environmental- and social-impact assessment process.

It is also evaluating the potential to build BAFs in North America, the UK and the European Union, as well as to build an artificial graphite (AG) production facility that would supply AG anode material along with natural flake-based anode material.