Sovereign Metals (ASX: SVM) has produced an “ultra-high purity” 99.9995% graphite from its Malingunde project in Malawi.
The “five-nines” graphite was produced during test work at a North American laboratory to evaluate its potential for various high-end industries and applications.
According to Sovereign, the high purity graphite was produced via a proprietary thermal purification method using a reduced temperature, which requires lower energy inputs and “significantly” decreasing the carbon dioxide footprint compared to other thermal technologies.
Sovereign also noted that thermal purification was more environmentally friendly than the current hydrofluoric acid process.
Additionally, the 99.9995% graphite comprised “extremely low” impurities of less than 5 parts per million, with advanced battery applications accepting up to 490ppm impurities.
“Achieving five-nines purity in a simple and cost-efficient manner is a very important milestone in enabling entry into the emerging lithium-ion battery sector and other value-add markets,” Sovereign managing director Dr Julian Stephens said.
“Entry to emerging markets, combined with sales to high-volume, high-value, traditional markets such as refractories, foundries and other industrial applications provides Sovereign with unique product marketing optionality and the potential to sell Malingunde concentrates to a wide range of customers,” Dr Stephens added.
In addition to the battery market, Sovereign stated its graphite could potentially used in pebble bed modular reactors with the nuclear science sector, which needs a ultra-high purity graphite feedstock.
Sovereign plans to carry out more test work on milling and classification of the purified flake into spheronised graphite products for evaluating in lithium-ion battery anodes and other high-end applications.
Malingunde flake graphite project
Today’s positive test work news follows a resource upgrade at Malingunde which was reported last month.
The new resource totals 45.7 million tonnes grading 7.2% total graphitic carbon, with 81% of that classified as measured and indicated.
A higher-grade component of 14.5Mt grading 9.7% TGC is also evident, with 88% of that classified as measured and indicated.
The graphite is hosted in soft saprolite and saprock, with Sovereign claiming Malingunde hosts the “world’s largest saprolite-hosted graphite mineral resource”.
An upcoming pre-feasibility study will focus on the high-grade resource component.
Sovereign’s share price had lifted 4.35% to A$0.096 by midday on today’s news.