WA Premier Mark McGowan and Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan have officially cut the ribbon on International Graphite’s downstream pilot processing plant in Collie. The company plans to use the facility to produce battery anode material – an essential component of a lithium-ion battery and its inauguration represents a significant breakthrough in its production ambitions.
International Graphite says the pilot plant not only benefits itself but pushes the country’s entire battery sector forward, spearheads economic growth in WA’s South West region and assists the State’s clean energy aspirations.
The plant is one of several new facilities to pop up in the zone following the West Australian government’s bid to reinvigorate the region’s economic prospects in a step away from the town’s traditional reliance on the coal industry.
The grant provides funding through a pair of programs, one of which provides up to $2 million in matched funding support.
International Graphite will plough the $2 million received into development of its pilot processing plant. The Perth-based company says the cash could go a long way into transforming the facility into a commercial-scale graphite beneficiation hub.
Management says the facility is already amongst the biggest and most sophisticated in the country, yet it still plans on kitting it out with the latest graphite processing technology to bring it closer to full-scale production.
To manufacture battery anode material or “BAM”, unrefined graphite must first be treated through a series of steps including “micronisation” which condenses its average diameter and “spheroidisation” which converts its granular structure into a more ellipsoid-type shape.
International Graphite says its pilot facility is currently capable of achieving both, however, to produce BAM the micronised and spheroidised graphite must be purified and coated.
However, the company notes it doesn’t need to start producing BAM to generate cashflow and claims it could sell its provisional, micronised graphite goods to consumers to carve itself an early source of income.
News of the facility opening its doors follows an announcement that International Graphite has arranged for a micronising qualification scale plant to be installed at its Collie facility.
The company argues the system will allow it to tie down customer sales agreements and convert its pilot plant into a full-scale commercial centre within the next two years.
This new facility is proof that International Graphite is well on its way to establishing commercial downstream graphite processing facilities in Collie. By the end of 2023 we expect to be completing construction and commissioning of a commercial scale graphite processing plant here in Collie. By 2025, we expect to have developed a fully integrated battery anode project with feedstock coming from our planned graphite mine at Springdale, near Hopetoun, on WA’s south coast.
Whilst WA Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan added, “The opening of International Graphite’s new processing facility is a big win for Collie’s Just Transition Plan – an effort to attract new 21st century industries to the region as we decarbonise our economy.”
International Graphite is the only company in WA to offer a complete mine-to-market graphite solution and plans to transform raw graphite from its existing Springdale resource near Hopetoun in WA into BAM. So far the company has relied on third-party sourced material for its beneficiation work.
Springdale takes in a 15 million-tonne inferred resource going 6 per cent total graphite content, or “TGC”. Notably the asset boasts an even higher-grade 2.6-million-ounce component grading 17.5 per cent TGC.
Additional drilling in areas close to Springdale has also unveiled two adjacent discoveries; “Springdale Far West” and “Springdale Central.”
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