Renascor Resources (ASX: RNU) reports its recently completed battery anode material study has confirmed graphite from its proposed Siviour mine is able to produce purified spherical graphite (PSG) at among the lowest cost of any graphite development in the world.
Independent tests on graphite from Siviour, located on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, show it is possible to use it as feedstock for processing into PSG through an environmentally-friendly caustic roast purification method.
The results also confirm the potential to optimise the caustic roast circuit by lowering reagent consumption, thereby potentially further reducing operating costs.
Testing by German graphite specialist ProGraphite has successfully upgraded Siviour spheronised graphite into lithium-ion battery grade, 99.97% carbon PSG.
Renascor managing director David Christensen said the test results will help the company secure offtake commitments that will, in turn, clear the way for the financing and development of the Siviour project.
“The results today further support Renascor’s goal of becoming a major source of PSG for lithium-ion battery grade anode makers by validating our more eco-friendly purification process that satisfies sustainability requirements of end-users and financiers,” he said.
Renasor claims its process is a more sustainable alternative to producing PSG than the hydrofluoric acid method generally used by Chinese PSG producers.
The company said PSG is experiencing “significant” demand growth with a 29% annual growth rate forecasted through to 2030.
First integrated mine and materials operation outside China
Renascor is developing a vertically integrated operation consisting of a mine and concentrator, located inland from Arno Bay on the Spencer Gulf Coast, plus a downstream operation to produce PSG.
In addition to being a low-cost producer, the company said it will operate the only in-country mine and battery anode materials operation outside of China.
The South Australian component will cover the mining of ore containing graphite, then crushing and processing through flotation into 94% to 96% total carbon. Then, the graphite concentrates will be micronised, spheronised and purified to greater than 99.95% total carbon.
Following this, the anode material will be coated and treated. China, Japan and South Korea are the leaders in such processing but there are also emerging producers in Europe and the US.
Anodes and other components will then be assembled into lithium-ion battery cells for automakers.