Sovereign generates premium African graphite product

Perth-based African graphite developer, Sovereign Metals, has successfully extracted a high-quality graphite concentrate during its pilot plant test work program.

The processed graphite originated from the company’s Malingunde deposit, located 15km south-west of the African city of Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city.

Sovereign discovered Malingunde in 2015 and has since identified a total graphite resource of 65.1Mt @ 7.1% TGC that is the world’s largest saprolite-hosted graphite deposit according to the company.

Saprolite is a very soft, clay-rich material that can potentially be very amenable to cost-effective “free digging” instead of the more traditional drill and blast method of mining hard rock deposits. Free digging significantly reduces the cost of mining and processing as it requires no primary crushing at the process plant end in addition to dispensing with the need to drill and blast.

The testing of the pilot plant program successfully generated four tonnes of high-quality graphite concentrate from approximately 40 tonnes of ore feed. The metallurgical results from ore feed appear to be robust with high carbon yield recoveries exceeding 94%.

These carbon recoveries are considered to be very encouraging as the feed material was sourced from a variety of different areas across the deposit, therefore demonstrating the ore and recovered concentrates are likely to be consistent.

These results will no doubt give management further confidence moving forward into its definitive feasibility study at Malingunde.

Further key results from the pilot program include a wide graphite flake size range. This is notable as industrial end-users of the product mostly require different graphite flake sizes, depending on the final offtake product specifications.

Sovereign should be able to tailor its processing flow-sheet to individual customer requirements, thus providing a stable, high-quality source of graphite concentrate for end-users.

There is a wide-ranging industrial market for graphite, including its use in lubricants, graphite fire-proof sheeting and foils and also in the lithium battery market.

Sovereign has now ramped up its marketing and graphite sales efforts and has received positive responses from potential uptake customers with the company requested to provide upwards of 10 samples for end-user assessment.

Sovereign Managing Director Dr Julian Stevens said: “The strong response for concentrate samples by potential offtake partners is extremely encouraging and the company looks forward to updating the market as these discussions continue to advance”.


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