15/04/2021 - 13:41

Comet looks to join downstream graphite rush

15/04/2021 - 13:41

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In what is becoming a definite trend for graphite developers now, ASX-listed Comet Resources is looking for downstream commercial opportunities for its Springdale graphite deposit near Ravensthorpe in WA. The company says it is aiming to create a graphitic product for use in anodes in the flourishing lithium-ion battery market and its recent test work on ore from Springdale showed excellent recoveries and purity levels.

Float testing of graphitic ore at a bench scale in a specialty laboratory. Credit: File

In what is becoming a definite trend for graphite developers now, ASX-listed Comet Resources is looking for downstream commercial opportunities for its Springdale graphite deposit near Ravensthorpe in WA. The company says it is aiming to create a graphitic product for use in anodes in the flourishing lithium-ion battery market and its recent test work on ore from Springdale showed excellent recoveries and purity levels.

The next challenge for Comet will be the design of a potential processing path to take its natural flake graphite from a raw product through to the production of high-purity, spherical graphite for use in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries.

Comet says the small flake size of its Springdale graphitic ore potentially makes it very suited to the production of spherical graphite, a highly sought-after product in the battery manufacturing markets that can command a premium to the standard graphite price.

Comet Resources Managing Director, Matthew O’Kane said:“Earlier tests have demonstrated the graphite from Springdale is quite a rare product due to its very small flake size, which could make it ideally suited for anode production.”

 

“The results of this ongoing test work will determine the suitability of the natural flake graphite from Springdale for use in the manufacture of battery anodes for electric vehicles.”

The company’s Springdale graphite project comprises of three exploration licenses covering around 198 square kilometres of prospective stratigraphy in Great Southern region of Western Australia.

Comet’s wholly-owned tenure sits just 30 kilometres to the east of the town of Hopetoun and is well-serviced by nearby roads, power and water. The project also lies just 150km west of the port of Esperance and is connected to that facility via a network of paved roads.

Previous exploration by Comet has defined a global resource of 15 million tonnes at 6 per cent total graphitic carbon at Springdale, which also hosts a higher-grade core of 2.6 million tonnes at an impressive 17.5 per cent total graphitic carbon. An evaluation of the project area by Comet indicates that only around one fifth of the host stratigraphy has been drill tested, alluding to the greater potential of the company’s tenure.

Comet’s initial test work shows that more than two thirds of the natural graphite in the Springdale ores is a rare, ultrafine product  that measures at less than 38 microns, which company says makes it an ideal candidate for purification and processing into a spherical graphite for battery markets.

Spherical graphite forms the building blocks of battery anodes in a host of different battery types, including lithium-ion batteries which are used in various portable technologies, electric vehicles and are increasingly being utilised in various military and aerospace applications.

The company is now compiling a bulk sample of the Springdale ores, which will be processed into a concentrate prior to being forwarded to a specialist lab in Germany for advanced testing. The lab will subject the sample to various processing methodologies, including floatation, examining its amenability to purification, micronisation and spheronisation – all key attributes for the manufacture of graphitic anodes.

Comet expects to report on the results of the testing program in the months ahead.

The strategy of going downstream in the graphite space is gathering a head of steam in the market.

ASX-listed EcoGraph’s share price rocketed from 3c to $1 in the last year or so before settling back to just over 60c for a market cap of around $290m on the back of its plans to go downstream in the graphite space.

Black Earth Minerals’ share price rocketed from about 4.5c to a high of 28c after that company announced a planned move into downstream graphite processing.

If Comet can show a clear pathway for the downstream processing of its graphite, it may be able to muscle its way into this increasingly lucrative looking marketplace.

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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