Graphite explorer BlackEarth Minerals (ASX: BEM) has unveiled a maiden resource and an exploration target between 260 million tonnes and 380Mt for its flagship 100%-owned Maniry graphite project in Madagascar.
The news comes only eight months after the company listed on the ASX. The maiden indicated and inferred resource was calculated for the Razafy deposit and totals 11.2Mt grading 7.1% total graphitic carbon for 795,200t.
Ongoing drilling has continued to unearth consistent, wide, high-grade graphite intersections, with the Razafy deposit remaining open in all directions.
Based on exploration to-date, BlackEarth has now calculated an exploration target of up to 380Mt grading 6-8% TGC for the project.
BlackEarth managing director Tom Revy said the exploration target demonstrated the “significant potentional” of Maniry.
In addition to Razafy, BlackEarth is actively drilling the Haja prospect, with a resource update that will include Haja’s results planned for October.
Since debuting on the ASX, BlackEarth has set itself clear goals, with each consistently achieved including today’s maiden resource.
The next big milestone will comprise completing a scoping study before the end of the first quarter next year.
Feasibility studies are expected to be finished by late 2020, with the company targeting production for battery and expandable graphite markets by end of the first half of 2021.
Razafy graphite mineralogy
In addition to the positive resource fundamentals, metallurgical evaluation of Razafy graphite has returned a high percentage of super jumbo graphite flakes exceeding 1,000 microns.
Additionally, the graphite has the advantage of minimal contaminants, which could facilitate easier processing for battery and expandable graphite markets once the project is operational.
Definitive metallurgical test work is now scheduled to kick-off next month, which will focus on reducing operating costs while maintaining flake size and producing a consistent high-purity graphite concentrate.
High-quality graphite has been arising out of Madagascar for more than 100 years, which is produced at a low cost.
Maniry is surrounded by critical infrastructure with existing airstrips in the “immediate area”.
Local roads are used by trucking companies, with the Fort Dauphin port about 230km from the project site.
BlackEarth plans to source water from a mine bore field, while diesel powered generators will supply power.
Trump’s tax on China’s graphite
Today’s news follows US President Donald Trump’s 10% tariff on natural and synthetic graphite imports from China.
With China as a major graphite producer and supplier to global markets, this opens up the US market for non-Chinese graphite producers such as BlackEarth.