gone crazy :shock
Careful with some "late bloomers" and those who haven't even sunk a drill bit into the ground
Vertical integration will be key to graphite success
As with rare earths, so with graphite. The key to success will be vertical integration - and many of the projects will never make it to production. But - and heres the upside - the successful players will land on their feet, providing a product the world needs (and will keep on needing in greater quantities as technology advances).
Thats the bottom line of a comprehensive report on the sector from Montreal-base Industrial Alliance Securities (IA).
But, again, as with rare earths, so with graphite in hoe this rush was all started by China, the company dominating production but keen to preserve its own resources and downstream processing. Chinese export regulations on graphite have triggered a price increase, providing ideal conditions for the graphite sector and attracting exploration companies.
Our analysis of the entire sector confirms the supply shortage scenario highly speculated by the industry and suggests that a minimum of four new mines and as many as 23 will be needed to go into production outside of India and China between now and 2020 to cope with the growth in demand, the report states.
IA points out that the last time a large number of graphite projects were being explored or developed was during the 1990s. Since then, the best deposits were either acquired by the two big European speciality metals groups - Paris-based Imerys or Germanys GK Graphite - or by state-owned companies. Smaller deposits were abandoned due to falling prices and several mines mothballed - including the Uley mine in South Australia which is now on the verge of producing once again.
The class of 2012 will face a similar destiny as we do not expect the majority of the junior exploration companies to take their deposits into production, the IA report states. Only the best deposits, if discovered in the beginning of the demand growth cycle, have the potential to get developed by the actual exploration company.
Note that last phrase: by the actual development company. That is not saying that particular deposits wont get developed, only that it could be someone else doing the developing. This is because - like rare earths - the key to development will be vertical integration through graphite-upgrading although it will require a competent management team with the industry knowledge and experience.
Otherwise, it will be left to the likes of Imerys and GK Graphite - or we may see major downstream producers such as Superior Graphite or Asbury Carbons return to mining.
Then there are the two big Asian giants. IA expects a push from companies in China and India as both those nations look to secure further supply. We have, of course, seen Chinese companies engage in buying projects abroad or taking stakes in foreign miners across a wide range of commodities; with India this is far more nascent, with much of the more advanced activity has been in the coal sector.
IA says the graphite sector should be partitioned into eight categories - of these, 69 projects are in the earliest-stage sector, target generation. This includes projects that are undergoing historic data compilation. Next is early stage exploration, and which includes 22 projects. Then were down to just two projects in Stage III, resources definition; one step up at advanced exploration are three companies covering four projects. One is left by the time we climb to the second-highest rung, pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility, while the pinnacle - development - is empty.
IA believes investor interest in early stage graphite projects reached a saturation point in April.
Focus Metals Inks Deal for Graphite Purification Showing Positive Signs of Long-Term Graphite Market Demand
Now we know why Focus Metals Inc. (TSXV: FMS | OTCQX: FCSMF) wasnt in the news last week when we posted Graphite Week-in-Review: Focus Metals Trading Halted, Flinders Adds Yet More Talent to Management Team & Standard Graphite Identifies a Significant Conductor. Today early morning news is reporting that Focus Metals and Hydro Quebecs leading research institute, IREQ, have signed a graphite purification technology agreement for lithium-ion batteries. This is big news for the graphite industry and it is definitely heating up the graphite race to production.
Focus Metals CEO Gary Economo, comments, This agreement represents a huge and significant milestone for us as we move through pre-development to production of our Lac Knife technology graphite deposit. Moreover, the marriage of Focus's Quebec-based, world-class graphite deposit to the Quebec-based global leader in processing technologies-especially in battery anode production-will leave Focus Metals well-positioned to secure its place as a quality supplier to the fast-growing lithium battery manufacturing sector.
The licensing agreement has two parts. The first part addresses Focus Metals development of a graphite purification process that yields Lac Knifes processed graphite to 99.95% carbon to be used in lithium-ion batteries. Specifically the processing will entail spherical shaping and thermal and chemical purification. The second part of the agreement addresses the production of anodes for the lithium-ion batteries.
The new facility owned and managed by Focus Metals will use feed source from their Lac Knife high grade graphite deposit and turn it into battery grade material. The new purification facility will be designed, based on positive economic analysis, to yield 15,000 tonnes of spherical battery-grade at peak operation, by 2015. The anode production facility will be designed to produce as much as 5,000 tonnes of anodes. In exchange for their technology licence, technology support and future processing improvement, IREQ will receive licensing fee that will be paid over three years which represents less than 10% of the current working capital as well as a royalty fee based on a percentage of future sales.
Things are coming together for Focus Metals in a good way -- At the Graphite Express Conference, Gary also announced that the company will soon change its name to Focus Graphite and indicated that a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the Lac Knife project is being prepared and is expected to be published next month. He also highlighted establishing relations with academia and the private sector on graphene and that investors can expect to hear more about this. As the only junior mining company with an investment in graphene has says that the 16% grade large and medium flake graphite at Lac Knife gives the company a clear strategic advantage in that the highest grade graphite will lead to the lowest cost of production.
And now with a commitment from Hydro Quebecs research institute this is a positive sign that Quebecs graphite industry is not just a passing phase and that the global graphite demand will be strong going forward, though not everyone sees it that way.
Lets counter -- One of the biggest trends we are seeing in the graphite industry right now is the growing need for graphite in batteries. Currently there is no substitute for graphite in many technologies. Hybrid and electric cars represent a large-scale use of graphite as their batteries can require as much as 40 pounds of graphite each. At the Graphite Express Conference last week, the increasing demand for graphite in the use of batteries was highly discussed. Further with China as the dominant supply source of graphite there is a clear and present need for alternative sources of reliable supply of graphite -- especially given the Chinese are becoming increasingly protective of their resources amid the implementation of export tax and value added tax (VAT) that have been assigned to graphite.
Congratulations to Focus Metals -- I applaud their strategic vision and appreciate that as a company they have consistently achieved their benchmarks. So much so that I bought some of their stock this AM.
Disclaimer: Focus Metals Inc. is a sponsor of GraphiteBlog.
MAYBE THE MOD WILL CREATE A SEPARATE GRAPHITE THREAD **********************************
A new paper made of graphene and protein fibrils
Researchers led by Raffaele Mezzenga, a professor in Food and Soft Materials Science, have created a new nanocomposite made of graphene and protein fibrils: a special paper, which combines the best features of both components.
The final hybrid nanocomposite paper made of protein fibrils and graphene after vacuum filtration drying. The schematic route used by the researchers to combine graphene and protein fibrils into the new hybrid nanocomposite paper. (Reproduced from Li et al. Nature Nanotechnology 2012) (gallery)
The circular sheets that Raffaele Mezzenga gently lifts from a petri dish are shiny and black. Looking at this tiny piece of paper, one could hardly imagine that it consists of a novel nanocomposite material, with some unprecedented and unique properties, developed in the laboratory of the ETH professor.
This new "paper" is made of alternating layers of protein and graphene. The two components can be mixed in varying compositions, brought into solution, and dried into thin sheets through a vacuum filter - "similarly as one usually does in the manufacture of normal paper from cellulose" says Mezzenga. "This combination of different materials with uncommon properties produces a novel nanocomposite with some major benefits," says the ETH professor. For example, the material is entirely biodegradable.
"Graphene paper" has shape memory features
Graphene is mechanically strong and electrically conductive, as well as, highly water repellent by nature. On the other hand, the protein fibrils are biologically active and can bind water. This allows the new material to absorb water and to change shape under varying humidity conditions. Furthermore, the "graphene paper" has shape memory features such that it can deform when adsorbing water, and recover the original shape upon drying. This could be used, for example, either in water sensors or humidity actuators.
But "the most interesting feature is that we can use this material as a biosensor to precisely measure the activity of enzymes," says Mezzenga. Enzymes can digest and break down the protein fibrils. This changes the resistance of the composite, which is a measurable quantity once the graphene paper is incorporated into an electrical circuit. "This feature is, for me, the nicest part of the story. Seen from this angle, we could claim to have discovered a new general method to measure enzymatic activity, says the ETH professor.
The material can also be designed to meet other needs. For example, the higher the proportion of graphene, the better it conducts electricity. On the other hand, the more fibrils are present, the more water can be absorbed by this material, with enhanced deformations in response to humidity changes.
Interestingly, this new material can be made with relatively simple means. The protein, in this case, beta-lactoglobulin, a milk protein, is first denatured by high temperatures in an acidic solution. The end-products of this denaturation process are protein fibrils suspended in water; these fibrils then act as stabilizers for the hydrophobic graphene sheets and allow them to be finely dispersed in water and processed into nanocomposites by a simple filtration technology.
The concept can be extended
In view of the widespread tendency of proteins to form fibrils, under specific conditions, this concept can be extended, in principle to other food proteins, such as those found in eggs, blood serum and soy. The beta-lactoglobulin fibrils used in the work lead by Mezzenga are digested specifically by pepsin, an enzyme present in the stomach to enable the digestion of several food components. However, varying the protein types could provide a new method of targeting a much larger class of enzymes.
Inspired by their past research on amyloid fibrils and by the rise of graphene, the ETH researchers have combined these two building blocks to generate a new class of versatile and functional materials. Nowadays, graphene paper is no longer a novelty, says Mezzenga, it is the combination with amyloid fibrils which is central to this new class of hybrid materials.
Graphite development takes off in Canada, Focus Metals and other juniors present goods
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 by Deborah Sterescu
From North America: Graphite and "rising demand" were the buzz words of the day at the Graphite Express conference in Toronto last Wednesday, sponsored by the Financial Post.
Chris Berry of House Mountain Partners was the first keynote speaker of the event, highlighting the importance of developing future supply of the metal given the expected rise in demand, which is being driven upwards by green technology.
The industrial mineral has the highest natural strength and stiffness of any material, along with the lightest weight of all reinforcements. It is also an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, as well as strong lubricant.
Graphite has many applications today, ranging from refractories, brake linings and steel-making uses, to lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells - what Berry calls "twin avenues of demand" from both today's and tomorrow's uses.
The need for graphite in lithium-ion batteries is projected to grow dramatically, with these batteries found in several electronic devices. There is currently 15 grams of graphite in a smartphone battery.
Indeed, in the last decade, graphite demand has grown by five percent annually, driven by Asian steel and auto markets, to an estimated $12.0 billion worldwide market in 2011. Output, however, was 1.4 million tonnes last year, and is projected to drop to 1.1 million tonnes in 2012.
Graphite fits into two primary classifications: natural graphite and synthetic graphite. Natural graphite, which is a third of the cost of synthetic graphite, exists in three forms: flake, amorphous, and vein or lump graphite.
Consumption of flake graphite is growing as amorphous graphite consumption falls and accounts for at least 50 percent of consumption in mature industrialized economies. Flake graphite - the most actively pursued type and associated with next-generation technologies - is made up of layers of graphene, which is the minerals' base structural element.
With a huge influx of interest in the graphite space going forward, Berry says there are a number of factors to consider in terms of demand, including electrification and the rising quality of life in the emerging world, seeing graphite "squarely in the crosshairs" of this.
Other factors Berry notes are the growing trend of resource nationalism in countries like China, and the itch for security of supply from companies like Honda or Toyota who are hoping a lack of the material does not disrupt their supply chain.
About 80 percent of the world's graphite comes from China, but growth in its mine output has slowed with the closure of natural graphite mines in Hunan Province - a concern from both a consumption and production standpoint, says Berry.
With China growing ever-more protective of its resources, there is a clear need for additional supply of graphite even without next-generation uses, emphasizes Berry. China is known to artificially increase prices through levies and by forcing the closure of some mines within its borders.
Three major global graphite producers have committed to spend over $1 billion to expand their capacity, signifying that the graphite interest is merely just beginning, and that the space is set to evolve even more quickly than anticipated.
India is the second largest producer of the material, followed by Brazil, North Korea, Austria, and Canada, with the US currently having no output of graphite.
Should demand double by 2020, spawned by growth in the electric vehicle market alone, the competition for supply between the East and West could create a bonanza for investors who bet on junior graphite developers today.
Canada is leading the way in graphite exploration activity, with a number of companies owning a cluster of graphite properties in Quebec and Ontario.
Berry says when looking at junior players in the sector, it is important that companies have a "balanced footprint", with their inventory not slanted too much towards one given end-use, so as to insulate the company from potential demand shocks.
"Companies in the space must know where they are going to sell their entire inventory to and if they can do it at a profit," advises Berry.
The market, he notes, is negotiated by buyers and sellers, which means that juniors may not be able to realize the $2,500-$3,000 per tonne price at which large flake graphite sells.
Still, investing in new graphite exploration and mine development, and the expansion of existing deposits, are critical for the creation of a level-playing field with China.
Queue the 12 companies that presented at the conference, in a five-minute "speed dating" format, starting off with Focus Metals (CVE:FMS) (OTCQX:FCSMF), soon to change its name, appropriately enough, to Focus Graphite.
Focus Metals is an emerging mid-tier junior graphite company and is the 100 percent-owner of the highest-grade technology graphite resource in the world, also known as Lac Knife in Fermont, Quebec.
With a grade of 16%, the company's CEO Gary Economo says it will be able to produce large and medium flake, battery-grade graphite at the lowest cost in the world, at just $350 per tonne.
In February, Focus raised another $10 million, on top of the $20 million it raised last year, which it plans to use to cover exploratory drilling costs in 2012.
In part, funds will be used for nine potentially promising high-grade graphite targets on the Lac Knife property, in addition to the companys previously announced expanded drilling program for its eight million ton deposit, which remains open in all directions. Expansion and exploratory drilling are to begin later this month.
The project, which Economo says has excellent infrastructure, is currently in the midst of a preliminary economic assessment, with the report expected to be published in June.
The company, which also has direct ownership in graphene technologies and application development, listed 23 months ago, and in that time, its stock has risen some 1,000 percent.
Focus Metals holds a 40 percent interest in Grafoid Inc., a graphene investment, as well as research and development and patenting joint venture.
Focus has developed a unique graphene extraction and production process using raw graphite ore from its Lac Knife deposit. The aim is to perfect a process that mass-produces graphene without destroying its electrically conductive properties, on an economically scalable basis.
On Monday, the company announced a license agreement with Hydro-Quebecs research institute, IREQ, allowing Focus to develop a graphite purification facility and a graphite anode production facility for lithium-ion batteries.
The new, Focus-owned facility will transform first-production graphite sourced from the companys Lac Knife deposit to battery-grade material.
The graphite market is expanding, asserts Economo, and by 2020, an estimated 25 new mines are required to come on tap to meet global demand for green technologies, with Canadian graphite producers set to have a major impact in the world space.
Following Focus Metals, a number of other graphite juniors showcased their goods, including Strike Graphite (CVE:SRK), Energizer Resources (CVE:EGZ), Graphite One Resources (CVE:GPH) and Northern Graphite (CVE:NGC).
Strike Graphite is aggressively advancing its properties in northeastern Saskatchewan toward the goal of achieving an NI 43-101 compliant resource by the fourth quarter of this year.
Its properties include the Deep Bay East project in Saskatchewan that has 1.6 kilometres of known strike length with potential for large tonnages of graphite, and the Simon Lake property in the same province where a historic drill hole encountered an average of 38.8% graphite over 42.2 metres.
The company also holds the Wagon property in Quebec, which consists of three separate claim blocks for a total of around 3,000 hectares. The asset is located 12 kilometres east of Timcal's prolific graphite mine.
Energizer Resources surprised some with its Green Giant property in Madagascar, which it expects will be in
production by 2014. The 120-kilometre long property holds a 100 million tonne resource, with a grade ranging between 6-10%.
The company has begun the delineation of its Molo deposit at the site, with results intersecting around 14.6% C over 13.5 metres and 8.8% C over 108 metres. Metallurgical results have also confirmed jumbo flake graphite with 93% purity.
CEO Kirk McKinnon says that resource drilling is starting this quarter, with a preliminary economic assessment targeted by October. The company has teamed up with large African mine development firm DRA Mineral Projects to fast-track the mine to development, with DRA taking an equity stake in Energizer.
Graphite One president and director Anthony Huston followed, boasting the company's promising Graphite Creek property on the Seward Peninsula of Alaska, 65 kilometres north of Nome.
The company's aim is to advance the property to a NI 43-101 compliant resource by 2013, with the miner fully financed having raised $6.4 million in March. Huston says the property offers significant potential for large-flake, high-purity graphite exposed at surface, with potential for an excess of 200 million tonnes grading between 5-10%.
In May, Graphite One will be flying an airborne survey, which will total approximately 690 total line kilometers. The survey is part of an aggressive $4.5 million summer exploration program at the Graphite Creek Property, which will consist of prospecting, geological mapping, sampling and drilling along conductors delineated from the airborne survey, and previously defined graphite-bearing schist.
Perhaps the most advanced of the juniors presenting Wednesday, Northern Graphite Corp. (CVE:NGC) expects to finish a bankable feasibility study and permitting for the Bissett Creek graphite deposit found in eastern Ontario in the first half of 2012.
The company recently inked a deal with Ontario-based Panacis under which the companies will develop lithium-ion batteries.
The PEA from the project indicated that the property, which has an estimated capital cost of $80 million, could economically produce 20,000 tonnes of graphite per year over a 40-year mine life, with a 0.66/1 waste ratio. The company has also published complete metallurgical test work, including lab and bench scale testing and a full pilot plant program.
CEO Gregory Bowes projects the company will have the highest revenue per tonne of concentrate in the industry, and the largest flake size distribution. The preliminary economic report estimated an internal rate of return of 24%, based on a price of $1,700 per tonne, for the project, which has the ability to scale production by three to five times, says Bowes.
Construction, which is anticipated to take one year, is expected to start in the third quarter.
Indeed, it appears that juniors are scrambling to ensure a steady supply of the critical material.
Final keynote speaker of the conference, Simon Moores of Industrial Minerals, spoke in depth about China's control of graphite production, and drew a comparison to phosphate.
Moores says that the country handed out free loans to bigger phosphate companies at one point to force consolidation in that industry to ensure control.
"Graphite is no different than phosphate," he concludes.
"The material is in the government's headlights."
Regency aims to exploit flake graphite shortage
Fri 4:13 pm by Philip WhiterowPrices of high quality flake graphite have been rising recently due a supply shortage, primarily due to its use in lithium ion batteries.
Regency Mines (LON:RGM) is to begin an exploration programme on its acreage adjacent to Australias primary flake graphite deposit at Munglinup.
Prices of high quality flake graphite have been rising recently due a supply shortage, primarily due to its use in lithium ion batteries. Flake graphite has extremely low resistivity to electrical conductance and the electrical resistivity decreases with the increase of flaky particles.
Regency acquired vacant ground adjoining Munglinup in late 2010 and said that as far as it is aware it is the first company to recommence exploration around Australia's primary flake graphite deposit, in the search for the same high grade carbon flake graphite.
The company plans to conduct a reconnaissance drill programme as soon as the permits can be obtained from the state government, and once access tracks are cleared through the scrub. A multi-phase drill programme will commence with 2 to 3 drill lines initially.
Regency also today released initial drill assay results from its March 2012 drilling programme at the Pyramid Lake project, which intersected significant grades of Ilmenite containing up to 3.79 per cent titanium.
University of Technology Sydney produced this graphene paper last year.
So Australia is at the forefront for the large deposits on the Eyre
No need for any canadians when we have AXE and other hopefuls.
Graphite Demand Seen Surging from Fuel Cells, Nuclear Reactors, Graphene
Monday May 21, 2012, 9:00pm PDT
By Karan Kumar - Exclusive to Graphite Investing News
Demand for graphite is rising and is expected to mushroom as this allotrope of carbon most commonly known as part of lead pencils finds new applications. Currently, three growing applications of this mineral lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells, nuclear reactors, and the potential uses of wonder material graphene are making the quest for graphite heat up.
Jeb Handwerger, an analyst, told Mining Weekly this month that he expects global demand for graphite to increase exponentially over the next few years from current production of about 1.1 million tons a year, more than 70 percent of which comes from China. He said demand could reach 1.6 million tons in five years, thanks to demand just from lithium-ion batteries, which use much more graphite than lithium.
Lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells
Electric vehicles, the buzzword of our times, could mean a surge in demand for high-grade flake graphite in the coming years as these green vehicles will be powered by lithium-ion batteries. While no concrete statistics are available, Brent Nykoliation, Vice President of Business Development at Energizer Resources Inc. (TSX:EGZ,OTCBB:ENZR,FWB:YE5) commented that China is reportedly preparing to stock up enough graphite to put one million electric and hybrid-electric vehicles a year on the road starting in 2015. At an average of 130 pounds of graphite needed per electric car battery, about 300,000 tons of graphite will be required.
Battery makers prefer synthetic graphite for lithium-ion batteries, according to a Reuters article published earlier this month. Further, the battery industry accounted for less than five percent of natural graphite market demand in 2011. However, that could change as synthetic graphite can cost more than $20,000 a tonne, while unprocessed flake graphite costs $1,500 to $3,000 a tonne. Add in the processing and coating and the price is $8,000 a tonne, amounting to major savings compared to synthetic graphite.
Gary Economo, President and CEO of Focus Metals Inc. (TSXV:FMC), said in an article that the reason battery manufacturers prefer synthetic graphite for lithium-ion batteriess is because they need consistency from their suppliers. So when they say synthetic graphite is easier to control, I think theyre saying their suppliers are controlling the quality of the material from one batch to another. When you order natural graphite from a distributor, you dont know what mine its coming from. Theres a variety of batches, and its very difficult for a battery manufacturer to maintain quality control. Economo added that as flake-graphite manufacturers offer high-quality and pure material to battery makers, the dynamics of the industry are bound to change.
Pebble-bed nuclear reactors
Most of the worlds graphite production is amorphous graphite, which is used in the steelmaking industry. Its flake graphite, whose price has soared from $1,000 to $3,000 a ton in the last five years, that is driving the demand for new applications.
A new generation of nuclear reactors called pebble-bed nuclear reactors use large amounts of flake graphite. These reactors get their name from the pebble-sized spheres of graphite mixed with uranium that they contain. This structure allows pebble bed reactors to produce power more efficiently and safely than conventional reactors, Alex Cowie, editor of Diggers & Drillers, wrote recently. This technology means nuclear reactors can be smaller, and as easy to run as turning a switch.
China started building a fourth generation 210-megawatt nuclear reactor using high-temperature, gas-cooled pebble-bed technology last year, International Business Times reported earlier this month. Each pebble-bed reactor would use about 3,000 tons of graphite, and China plans to boost its nuclear power capacity to 150 gigawatts by 2030, the article said, adding that Chinas current capacity is less than 50 gigawatts.
Is graphene our future?
Graphene is derived from graphite and is seen as the wonder material of this century as it conducts electricity and is one of the strongest, yet most lightweight materials known to mankind. It is touted as having the ability to profoundly impact many industries, from electronics to aerospace to autos. However, the miracles of graphene are mostly being seen in laboratories, and the price of manufacturing it needs to come down before widespread commercial use can occur.
Nearly 200 companies, including IBM (NYSE:IBM), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and Samsung (LSE:BC94), are invested in graphene research, and companies and governments are pumping billions into graphene research.
IBM has already used graphene to produce the fastest computer chip in history, Diggers & Drillers Cowie said. The US Air Force and Navy are funding research to investigate its potential. Graphene chips may displace silicon chips in computers. If this happens, then graphite demand would go through the roof.
Cowie added, [i]f scientists are even half-right, graphene could change the world as we know it, and the price of graphite will soar.
Securities Disclosure: I, Karan Kumar, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
They left the quality, more advanced stock, out of the story :cry:
Australian graphite players take market by storm: Syrah Resources, Monax Mining, Kibaran Nickel
Saturday, May 26, 2012 by Angela Kean
Graphite is definitely the commodity to be in at present with investors backing players to all new highs. Syrah Resources is the market darling of the moment with share prices hitting a one year high of A$2.15 this week.
Graphite has recently had quite a substantial return to interest from the investment community due to its near-term prospects and long-term growth potential.
This hot commodity is what has driven explorer Syrah Resources (ASX: SYR) to its highest point yet at A$2.15, an over 2,500% increase on the lows of $0.08 the company was trading at around this time last year.
Perhaps it has something to do with graphite being classified as a critical mineral by most western governments, or maybe the fact that we depend on supplies from China, Brazil, and India, which produce nearly all of the worlds graphite.
China produces about 70% of the worlds graphite alone but is experiencing slowing growth and reserve depletion.
The nation is also continuing to consolidate and reduce the number of graphite mines in Hunan province from 230 to 20 mines which will constrain global supply further with a loss of around 100,000 tonnes per annum, or 10% of annual global graphite supply, forecast.
In the current market, graphite prices have been increasing solidly and demand is outstripping supply.
Prices of coarse flake graphite have risen from around US$600 per tonne to around US$3,000 per tonne.
Based on demand and supply fundamentals it is unlikely that graphite will return to its past lows and the price of graphite has the potential to rise even further.
Syrah may not have a Resource yet but it wont be long, with the company unearthing almost 288 metres of high grade graphite mineralisation from surface at its Balama Project in Mozambique earlier this week.
With the rapid progress already being made at the project, Syrah is now expecting to deliver a maiden Resource during 2012, much earlier than originally anticipated.
Graphite mineralisation at Balama has been mapped over a strike of greater than 7 kilometres.
The graphite flakes being unearthed appear to be predominately coarse to very coarse in size, which is extremely promising as coarse flake graphite generally attracts higher sales prices.
Metallurgical testwork has shown that Balama contains medium to coarse grained graphite that can easily be upgraded to a high grade 94% carbon concentrate at high recoveries.
Further upside to the project is the associated highly anomalous vanadium geochemistry, which is widespread and provides the potential for vanadium credits.
Meanwhile, Investigator Resources (ASX: IVR) may be primarily focused on silver exploration at its Paris prospect on South Australias Eyre Peninsula, but the company is now adding graphite exploration to the mix.
A preliminary review of the graphite potential within Investigators regional tenements has identified several areas with good potential where graphitic schists were intersected in past drilling.
Widespread hits have been recorded in historic drill data, including a substantial shallow intersection of 15 metres at 12% total graphitic carbon at the Barna Hill tenement.
The value of this new addition to Investigators exploration portfolio is yet to be fully realised by the market, however shares did rally nearly 12% to A$0.24 intra-day following the announcement on Wednesday, a day when the broader Australian market was a sea of red.
Malagasy Minerals (ASX: MGY) joint venture partner Energizer Resources (TSX: EGZ) has made the important decision to move to development of the flagship Molo graphite deposit following a successful drilling campaign that delivered broad widths of high grade graphite.
With progress to date, the joint venture partners are defining a new graphite camp in southern Madagascar with plans to expedite mine development and begin production in 2014-2015.
Highlight assays from a late 2011 drilling campaign show intersections of 106 metres of graphite mineralisation at 8.44% carbon, including 37 metres at 11.17% carbon.
Another drill hole intersected 27 metres of graphite mineralisation at 7.25% carbon and was drilled into an exposed graphitic ridge 1 kilometre to the west of, and parallel to, the Molo deposit.
The graphitic ridge extends for a minimum of 12 kilometres in strike and down to at least 108 metres in depth.
Further upside for Molo is the jumbo flake graphite at an average purity of 93% carbon, which can be easily extracted through simple crushing of the Molo graphite.
Jumbo flake is considered among the most valuable graphite due to its use in industrial applications such as batteries for electric cars and as a result attracts a premium price.
Enhancing the economics even further is the near-surface nature of the deposit, which provides cost-effective open pit mining.
The joint venture partners have defined an exploration target of between 50 and 100 million tonnes at 6% to 10% carbon.
Resource definition drilling has begun at Molo and is expected to be completed in around two months.
As with other players, the market response to Malagasys graphite advancements has been strong with the company hitting a four month high of $0.145 earlier this month, well above the low of $0.03 the company was realising at the start of 2012.
Monax Mining (ASX: MOX) hit a one year high of around $0.10 earlier this month, almost double the lows it was trading at this time last year.
The company announced this week it had discovered high grade graphite samples of up to 19.84% carbon at its Waddikee Project on the Eyre Peninsula.
Monax has also identified another area of the project that has shown to be prospective for graphite.
Earlier this month geochemical assays confirmed the Argent prospect as a high priority graphite target, with rock chip samples reporting between 10.24% and 16.04% carbon.
Monax is now in the process of planning its maiden drilling program.
Kibaran Nickel (ASX: KNL) is a new player in the graphite game with its planned acquisition of Tanzgraphite, which has secured options over 1,308 square kilometres known as the Mahenge and Arusha projects in Tanzania.
The Mahenge project hosts the most prospective target, Ndololo, which has been shown to host grades of 15.5% carbon in previous exploration.
Ndololo has an exploration target of between 3.5 and 7 million tonnes at between 10% and 15.5% carbon.
Exploration work undertaken in 1945 also indicated a 97.5% recovery of flake graphite, with flake sizes ranging between 1.5 and 8.5 millimetres in size.
Mahenge hosts two other prospects, Epanko and Kasita, which are also prospective for similar graphite flake sizes to Ndololo.
The Arusha project has also been shown to host several graphite occurrences within graphitic schists.
Highlighting the market reaction to the acquisition, Kibaran shares spiked over 330% to an intra-day high of $0.20 following the announcement of the news earlier this month, compared to the lows of $0.046 the company was trading at in April.
Proactive Investors is a market leader in the investment news space, providing ASX Small and Mid-cap company news, research reports, StockTube videos and One2One Investor Forums.
You will note proactiveinvestors never write about management and cash levels. Thats where it all is.
Correct, and I think, but not sure, that the company has to "pay" to get an article published
yes they do, same they pay BRR for the interviews.
That's what I thought - so I'll go with the company that doesn't "promote" itself any day.
Prefer they put that money to better use - explore, develop, mine :D
KNL had 364k end of last quarter, traded to 20c.
last week ann they raised 350k to issue apprx 5mio
shares at 7c, and a further 1:3 non-renouncnable
has been ann. for further 900k to be raised at 7c.
So there will be more dilutions coming in the near
Originally a nickel explorer turned graphite explorer
I'm expecting many of these late bloomers to announce CR's on the back of the graphite story.
Yes me too, I went 3 years back in the SER story, what a mess
that seems, practically nothing what they have promised has
been delivered, chinese investors, JV partners, metallurgical
work, absolutely nothing. Read your earlier warnings but
only got time lately to catch up.
That one is on the nose big time, IMO.
Probably good for a quick trade, on the back of MEGA's (love that name - conjurs up a super nova event) listing, but would not like to be left holding.
China spending big to enter downstream graphite sector
China has around 400 graphite mines. Thats a fairly startling statistic, dont you think?
Here's something just as interesting: China is investing large sums to build its own graphite processing and downstream uses.
We hear a great deal about all the latest graphite and graphene technology and applications, but perhaps we should pause and step back, then take a look upstream on where all this graphite comes from. For that we have a graphite sector review, and its authors at Libertas Capital Partners in London, to thank.
The report reminds us that, as with rare earths (and fluorspar, tungsten and magnesium), China produces most of the worlds natural graphite - between 800,000 and 1 million tonnes of the global supply of between 1.2m and 1.5m tonnes. Most of Chinas graphite comes from Heilongjiang province. Those mines located in the north of the country close during the winter months of November to March, so there are seasonal supply variations.
Libertas sees China having a stranglehold on the graphite market because it actually has the capacity to produce 1.6 million tonnes a year. Of the graphite still in the ground, China has 73 per cent of known resources, followed by India (12 per cent), Brazil (7 per cent), North Korea (3 per cent) and Canada (2 per cent). Clearly, and again as with rare earths, the new wave of exploration by Western companies will see this resource balance altered substantially in the years ahead.
Libertas provides a list of the top graphite producers along with their annual production:
Jixi Liumao Graphite Resource (China) 90,000 tonnes
Heilongjiang Austrian Yu Graphite (China) 80,000 tonnes
Qingdao Haide Graphite (China) 75,000 tonnes
Chenzhou Lutang Crystalline Graphite (China) 70,000 tonnes
Nacional de Graphite (Brazil) 70,000 tonnes
Karaback Metal & Mining (Turkey) 50,000 tonnes
Qingdao Hensen Graphite (China) 38,000 tonnes
Lubei Yxaing Graphite (China) 30,000 tonnes
Extractive Menaquinone (Brazil) 30,000 tonnes
Graphite Kaiser berg (Austria) 30,000 tonnes
However, tonnages do not tell the whole story, as this report explains.
As much as 70 per cent of Chinas output is very fine flake, or amorphous graphite, with the rest being flake. Most of the production is around the +200 mesh range.
Again, there are historical parallels so far as China is concerned: as with rare earths, tin, tungsten, antimony and other metals, during the late 1980s large stockpiles of natural graphite were dumped into the open market resulting in the price crashing. During 1989-1991 mines closed around the world as a result (as did miners of the other metals that China dumped).
And the parallels with rare earths dont stop there.
Most of Chinas graphite goes abroad, much to Japanese manufacturers such as Showa Denko. China now has a 20 per cent export duty on graphite, Libertas explains. In addition, the government is pouring $US1.6 billion into the Jixi City region to build manufacturing plants that will make synthetic graphite and engineered graphite products.
thanks for the link MP, havnt read it yet, anything which
caught your eyes in particulat ?