Environmental approval paves way for integrated graphite supply chain

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Australian project developer and minerals explorer Renascor Resources Limited (Renascor) has received approval from the South Australian Department of Energy and Mining for its Program for Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation (PEPR) at its proposed Siviour Graphite Mine and Concentrator – the upstream component of Renascor’s Siviour Battery Anode Material Project (BAM Project).

Purified spherical graphite (PSG) is a key component of lithium-ion batteries, which is why a handful of companies across the globe are racing to become the first producers outside of China to stake the prime spot as the global wave of demand begins to take off.

According to a company statement the PEPR approval allows it to process up to 1.65 million tonnes of graphite, a crucial component of lithium-ion battery production. At that rate, Renascor says it can produce up to 150,000 tonnes of graphite concentrates each year. Renascor intends to use the graphite concentrates to produce PSG for use in lithium-ion battery anodes.

The Siviour Graphite Deposit is located in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula and is among the world’s largest reported graphite deposits.

The Siviour graphite deposit in South Australia is considered among the world’s largest. Renascor says the deposit’s “unique shallow, flat-lying orientation” makes it particularly attractive.

Image: Renascor Resources

Renascor Managing Director David Christensen said the news brings Renascor a step closer to becoming a producer of 100% Australian-made purified spherical graphite. For Christensen this dream cannot be realised soon enough for “there is growing potential for substantial upstream bottlenecks in the graphite-anode-battery supply chain due in large part to the lengthier approval process associated with new graphite mining operations relative to rapidly growing anode capacity.”

Through Export Finance Australia, the Australian government approved a $185 million (USD 124 million) loan facility funding to the BAM Project, provided it received PEPR approval. The company says it is already in discussions with “leading anode, battery and electric vehicle manufacturers in northeast Asia, Europe and the United States concerning potential PSG offtake.”

The Saviour Graphite Mine and Concentrator will consist of a conventional open-pit mine and crush, grind, float processing circuit. The deposit’s near-surface, flat-lying orientation is particularly favourable, and Renascor predicts a 40-year mine life.

There are a handful of other companies banking on market appetite for diversifying PSG supply chains outside of China. Norway, Sweden and Germany are all in the game, and closer to home Western Australian startup International Graphite is well on its way.

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