Hexagon Resources (ASX: HXG) has achieved a 99.999% pure graphite concentrate, “well in excess” of battery grade specifications from its McIntosh project in Western Australia, using its proprietary “simple, low-cost process”.
The company’s latest test work was carried out using its proprietary thermal purification process to achieve graphite concentrate grades between 99.9991% and 99.9998%.
Hexagon’s technology partner NAmLabs undertook the metallurgical study and stated the McIntosh material “purified easily”. According to NAmLabs, this was because impurities were on the flake’s outside, opposed to being trapped inside.
Test work also revealed enhanced properties for the battery market including improved surface area.
“This further validates the company’s strategy, namely taking advantage of McIntosh’s strong positives – that a clean benign ore-type is a key differentiating factor and outweighs simple mining metrics, such as grade,” Hexagon managing director Mike Rosenstreich said.
He added the company had achieved the results through an easy process, which can’t be done to all graphite forms so easily.
“For example, with acid leaching, we have not seen competitors’ acid leach flake at more than 99.98% – that’s because five nines allows us to operate in the ‘nuclear purity world’,” he said.
He claimed the extra “nine” in purity elevated the product’s selling price.
According to Mr Rosenstreich, the test work results afford the company a platform for promoting a higher purity product using a lower cost and “greener” processing method that would then translate into higher margins.
It is believed the high purity graphite concentrate would command premium prices in a number of industries, including: nuclear, synthetic diamonds, advanced electronics, lithium-ion battery anodes, as well as other battery components.
The McIntosh flake graphite project covers 330 square kilometres in WA’s east Kimberley region. The Longtom deposit has a resource of 5.5 million tonnes grading 5% total graphite carbon, while the Barracuda deposit has a resource of 0.7mt grading 4.4% total graphite carbon.
Shares in Hexagon closed the day at A$0.15 – up more than 15%.