Australian exploration and development company Peninsula Mines (ASX: PSM) has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean high-tech manufacturing group Tera Technos for the metallurgical testing of graphite samples from its flagship Gapyeong project, 50 kilometres east of Seoul.
The agreement was executed via Peninsula’s wholly-owned subsidiary Korea Graphite and will include spheroidisation and electrochemical testing of concentrate samples from Gapyeong and potentially from the company’s Eunha graphite project, located to the south-west.
Tera manufactures and supplies high-performance carbon composite “SiOx” anode material which it claims can “overcome the limitations” of conventional anode materials for batteries.
The company is collaborating with research institutes worldwide to produce an anode material for a lithium rechargeable battery with a high capacity/high retention ratio and superior stability to improve the range and charging efficiency of electric vehicles and the usage duration of small electronic devices.
Subject to the results of Tera’s metallurgical testwork for Peninsula, the companies will negotiate a co-operation and offtake agreement allowing Korea Graphite first priority to supply Tera with flake graphite to meet tonnage and specifications requirements for the manufacture of its proprietary “Tera-Series” carbon composite anode materials.
Peninsula managing director and Korea Graphite director Jon Dugdale said the relationship with Tera represents a key milestone for the company’s presence in Korea’s growing lithium-ion battery market.
“This is a toe-hold for us in the world’s most dynamic lithium-ion battery industry,” he said.
“We will now look to complete ground-breaking spheroidisation and electrochemical testing, in parallel with advancing our key graphite projects towards development and production.”
An initial exploration drilling program at the Gapyeong project has produced positive results for Peninsula.
Last month, the company encountered multiple high-grade intersections from six diamond holes drilled for 458m on the eastern limb of an interpreted synformal structure.
Best results were up to 10.63m at 11.6% total graphite content, including 8.63m at 12.1% TGC; and 6.55m at 7.9% TGC from 39.6m, including 2.47m at 11.9% TGC.
The “very encouraging” results confirmed the thickness and high-grades intersected in the company’s previous trenching activities.
Mr Dugdale said Peninsula would complete concentrate metallurgy on fresh rock samples before drilling continues to target a maiden flake-graphite mineral resource at Gapyeong.
South Korea is one of the world’s largest producers of lithium-ion batteries, obtaining its downstream graphite products – including spherical graphite for battery anodes – predominantly from China.
Peninsula is targeting the mining and production of value-added spherical graphite in South Korea with a view to directly supplying the country’s lithium-ion battery manufacturers and graphite end-users.
The company has identified a conceptual exploration target for the Gapyeong, Yongwon and Eunha North flake graphite projects of up to 17 million tonnes, grading 11% TGC, for approximately 1.7Mt of graphite.
At midday, shares in Peninsula Mines were trading 25% higher at $0.005.