Drilling across the Elephant deposit at Battery Minerals’ (ASX: BAT) advanced flagship Montepuez project in Mozambique has uncovered “free-dig” high-grade graphite mineralisation at surface.
The 240-hole drilling program covered almost 5,000m, which were drilled to refusal using the blade reverse circulation aircore method.
Better intersections were 37m grading 13.49% total graphitic carbon (TGC) from surface, 21m grading 15.03% TGC from three metres, 24m grading 16.07% TGC from surface, and 16m grading 15.78% TGC from surface.
Infill drilling was also carried out at Buffalo and Lion deposits, with data to be incorporated into a mine plan schedule.
Montepuez on-track for November commissioning
The Elephant deposit is part of the Montepuez project which is on track for its November commissioning and first graphite concentrate shipments in the March 2019 quarter.
According to Battery managing director David Flanagan, these latest results from Elephant underpin the company’s belief that Montepuez will be a “low-cost producer” of “high-quality graphite” for the battery sector.
One of the final hurdles to developing Montepuez was securing the mining licence, which the company obtained last week.
Battery now has approvals in place for its first two production stages allowing the company to produce up to 100,000 tonnes per annum of graphite concentrate.
To reduce initial capital costs, Battery plans to bring production online in phases at Montepuez. Under the first stage, up to 50,000tpa of 96.7% pure graphite concentrate is expected from Montepuez, with this increasing to 100,000tpa via stage two development by 2020.
In anticipation of its stage one production, Battery has secured four offtake deals amounting 80% of its initial planned output.
“With our mining licence now secured, production covered by four binding sales contracts and long-lead items ordered, we are well on-track for commissioning in November this year,” Mr Flanagan said.
Vanadium credits to be evaluated
In addition to graphite prospectivity, Montepuez and Battery’s nearby Balama graphite project have a combined resource of 0.28 million tonnes of vanadium pentoxide.
Battery claims it has received customer interest for its vanadium, which under current flow sheet designs reports to tailings.
In order to unlock the vanadium upside, Battery stated it would undertake test work to evaluate potentially recovering saleable vanadium concentrate from the tailings.
In early morning trade, Battery’s share price was up 1.35% to A$0.075.