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Test work on Kasiya graphite delivers exciting results

May 23, 2024 / Modester Mwalija
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Graphite flotation test at ALS Global in Australia

By Modester Mwalija         

ASX- listed Sovereign Metals, which is prospecting for rutile and graphite in Kasiya area in Lilongwe, says results of graphite test work conducted across multiple independent laboratories in Australia, Canada and South Africa have delivered superior quality, low impurity graphite for battery anodes.

Sovereign Metals MD Frank Eagar says in a statement that the graphite circuit feed prepared at Sovereign’s existing Lilongwe laboratory facility has produced high quality concentrates in benchtop and pilot-scale flotation and cleaning.

Four independent laboratories all successfully produced high-grade graphite concentrate averaging over 97% Total Graphite Content (TGC) with flotation recoveries exceeding 90%.

Eager explains that the graphite concentrates indicate exceptionally low levels of sulphur compared to typical hard-rock graphite peers – a key metric to qualify as active anode material for lithium-ion batteries.

He says the test-work demonstrated excellent results using a conventional flowsheet that was consistent across all laboratories, thus confirming Sovereign’s ability to produce a high-quality graphite concentrate.

Eagar says: “Our ability to upgrade Kasiya ore at 1.4% graphite to a 55% rougher concentrate without any crushing or milling, highlights more of the unique qualities of Kasiya. There are very limited other graphite projects with these characteristics.”

“The pilot-scale results also confirm that Kasiya produces high-grade concentrates with very low sulphur levels at high recoveries. Simply put, Kasiya will be a stand out producer of high-quality graphite concentrate at industry low operating costs.”

The tests successfully generated high-grade graphite concentrate of 94.9% to 97.8% Total Graphite Content (TGC) while achieving high flotation recoveries of 91.2% to 97.2%.

He says the graphite feed grades of 3.5%-4.0% TGC to the graphite circuit are significantly higher than the Mineral Resource Grade of 1.44%, highlighting the ~2.4 to 2.8 fold upgrading of graphite grades when Run of Mine (ROM) ore passes through the front-end rutile gravity separation circuit.

“This percentages demonstrates the ease of separating the rutile heavy mineral and graphite streams from the front end of the Kasiya Pre-feasibility Study process flow sheet and highlights the commercial benefits of having both rutile and graphite mineralisation co-existent in the same soft saprolite-hosted orebody,” says Eager.

He explains that the Kasiya material has exceptionally low levels of all of impurities iron, sulphur, silicon and aluminium compared to the Chinese Standard, which will potentially lead to significant commercial advantages during purification boosting Kasiya’s potential as a long term secure source of graphite.

Meanwhile, Kasiya concentrate has been sent for downstream test work at a globally respected graphite consultancy ProGraphite to produce and characterise Coated Spherical Purified Graphite (CSPG) active anode material for lithium-ion batteries.

Eagar says ProGraphite is conducting shaping, purification, and coating test work to produce CSPG and evaluate the electrochemical performance of Kasiya CSPG.

“This will provide baseline data for further optimisation and engagement with off-takers. Initial outcomes of this test work are expected to be released in the coming weeks,” says Eagar.

China dominates the supply of graphite for battery anodes.

Kasiya is the world’s largest rutile deposit and one of the largest graphite deposits.

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