iTech Minerals (ASX: ITM) has sent a bulk run-of-mine (ROM) ore sample from the Campoona graphite project in South Australia to Germany for testing by industrial and specialist minerals process development firm ANZAPLAN GmbH.
Test work will focus on the production of spherical graphite for use in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries using a low-cost, eco-friendly processing route with a small environmental footprint.
It will build on testing completed by previous owner Archer Materials (ASX: AXE) from 2015 to 2019, which produced battery-grade graphite using a traditional hydrofluoric acid process.
Final project results will be delivered within nine months and integrated into an update of the original Campoona scoping study released in 2013, featuring current prices and an optimised process flow sheet.
iTech managing director Mike Schwarz said the work will position Campoona as a premium product in a market which is “quickly transitioning to greener energy storage solutions”.
The Campoona graphite project contains a mineral resource of 8.55 million tonnes at 9% total graphitic carbon (TGC) across the Campoona Shaft, Central Campoona and Wilclo South prospects.
The project acreage also includes a granted mining lease and approved multipurpose licences for processing infrastructure and groundwater extraction.
iTech believes Campoona to be a de-risked opportunity to supply graphite into the growing battery technology market.
It is currently investigating the most effective pathway to producing “green” graphite using the abundance of renewable energy available in South Australia.
During its ownership, Archer Materials released a positive scoping study on Campoona and made significant progress on the project’s development.
It established that the graphite product was “structurally near-perfect” down to the atomic scale; was a versatile feedstock to high-value graphene materials; could be used to produce commercially-scalable full-cell configuration lithium-ion batteries; and could be converted into high-value spherical graphite for integration into the batteries.
With advancements in technology and processing techniques, Mr Schwarz said there was an opportunity to improve on the economics and environmental footprint of the process by partnering with ANZAPLAN.