Today we announce the launch of the TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index, an objective tool for tracking the leading new exploration & development projects in the graphite sector. This follows a number of requests to create such an Index, similar to the one that we maintain for the rare-earth sector.
While graphite appears to have come out of nowhere to become the new darling of the junior-mining investment community, it is an important industrial material with a wide range of uses.
Graphite has long been used as a lubricant, as a liner for furnaces, crucibles and lades in the steel industry, and in fire retardants, heat shields and brake pads. It is also used in pebble-bed nuclear reactors, photovoltaic cells for solar panels, carbon fibers, fuel cells and in so-called lithium-ion battery cells (which, the graphite project developers are always quick to tell us, contain far more graphite than they do lithium).
It is this latter application, plus the potential of the next-generation wonder material graphene (produced from sheets of carbon atoms just a single atom thick), that is driving the interest in new sources of natural-graphite supply. Graphite can be synthesized from coal and petroleum products, and synthetic graphite is used for a variety of the above applications. However, batteries and other growing uses of graphite frequently require the type of morphology only found in naturally occurring forms of graphite.
Three forms of natural graphite are of industrial interest: flake, amorphous and lump (or vein). So-called large-flake, high-purity graphite is of greatest interest to graphite junior-mining companies – analogous in some ways to the desire to find rare-earth deposits rich in the heavy rare earths. Large-flake graphite is of particular interest for the production of lithium-ion batteries.
In creating the TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index, we took some cues from our Index for rare earths. You should note that we are primarily interested in graphite and other materials from the strategic point of view – i.e. in the furtherance of the needs and demands of the overall technology supply chain. We are less interested in finding “five bagger” investments and more interested in projects that are going to actually produce metals and materials. I make no apologies for this fact.
The TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index consists of natural-graphite projects currently underway around the world, which have been either:
- formally defined as mineral resources or reserves under the guidelines of a relevant scheme such as NI 43-101 or the JORC Code; or
- are past-producing mines, with historical estimates that are actively being updated to comply with a relevant scheme.
The first iteration of the Index consists of 7 advanced graphite projects, associated with 8 different companies and located in 3 different countries:
- Bissett Creek in Ontario, Canada is being developed by Northern Graphite Corporation (TSX.V:NGC, OTCBB:NGPHF). The company recently completed a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) of the project. It has a NI 43-101-compliant mineral-resource estimate, with 26.0 Mt of the resource at the Indicated level @ 1.81 wt% CG and 55.0 Mt at the Inferred level @ 1.57 wt% CG (both at a cut-off grade of 0.99 wt%);
- Kearney in Ontario, Canada is being developed by Ontario Graphite Co. The Kearney mine previously produced graphite until 1994. The project has a NI 43-101-compliant mineral-resource estimate, with 18.3 Mt of the resource at the Measured level @ 2.35 wt% CG, 25.7 Mt of the resource at the Indicated level @ 2.33 wt% CG and 12.3 Mt at the Inferred level @ 2.42 wt% CG (each at a cut-off grade of 1.5 wt%);
- Kringel in Gävleborg, Sweden is being developed by Flinders Resources Ltd. (TSX.V:SGH). The Kringel mine previously operated between 1996 and 2001. The project has a historical mineral-resource estimate of 6.9 Mt @ 8.8 wt% CG, at an undisclosed cut-off grade and its present owners are in the process of upgrading those resources to be compliant with NI 43-101;
- Lac Knife in Quebec, Canada is being developed by Focus Metals Inc. (TSX.V:FMS, OTXQX:FCSMF, F:FKC), which will soon change its name to Focus Graphite Inc. It has a NI 43-101-compliant mineral-resource estimate, with 0.64 Mt of the resource at the Measured level @ 15.6 wt% CG, 4.3 Mt of the resource at the Indicated level @ 15.7% CG and 3.0 Mt at the Inferred level @ 15.6 wt% CG (each at a cut-off grade of 5.0 wt%);
- Nunasvaara in Norbotten, Sweden is being developed by Talga Gold Limited (ASX:TLG) and a subsidiary of Teck Resources Limited (NYSE:TCK), on which Talga has an 100% purchase option. The project has a JORC-compliant mineral-resource estimate of 3.6 Mt at the Inferred level @ 23.0 wt% CG, at a cut-off grade of 5 wt%;
- Raitajärvi in Norbotten, Sweden is being developed by Talga Gold Limited (ASX:TLG). It has a JORC-compliant mineral-resource estimate of 0.5 Mt at the Inferred level @ 10.8 wt% CG, at a cut-off grade of 5 wt%;
- Uley Main Road in South Australia, Australia is being developed by Strategic Energy Resources Ltd. (ASX:SER), which has signed an Implementation Deed with Mega Graphite Inc. for the acquisition by Mega Graphite of the project. The Uley mine previously operated until 1993. The project has a JORC-compliant mineral-resource estimate, with 4.3 Mt of the resource at the Indicated level @ 9.4 wt% CG and 2.3 Mt at the Inferred level @ 7.5 wt% CG (both at a cut-off grade of 3.8 wt%).
(N.B. all project information summarized above originates from the respective project owners).
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Sign up today for free updates to the TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index, and for future TMR commentary & analysis on the graphite sector.
We’ll update the Index on a monthly basis, as information on new projects becomes available. At present we are aware of an additional two projects in Canada and one in Australia that may be eligible for inclusion on the Index; more to follow on those. Feel free to use the sign-up box above, or on the Index page, to subscribe to free updates to the new Index, and to get notifications on new commentary and analysis from TMR, on the graphite sector.
FYI, in addition to those projects on the Index, TMR is now tracking over 100 other graphite projects under development, associated with a similar number of companies in over a dozen countries outside of China.
You can access the Index page here.
Disclosure: at the time of writing, Gareth Hatch is neither a shareholder of nor a consultant to any of the companies mentioned above.