Graphite One soon to release preliminary economic assessment
Four representatives of GraphiteOne Resources traveled to Nome, Brevig Mission and Teller in early October to meet with community leaders and to announce the impending release of a preliminary economic assessment that will determine the economic viability of the proposed graphite mine between the northern edge of the Kigluaik Mountain range and Imuruk Basin.
GraphiteOne Executive Chairman Doug Smith said that very little fieldwork has been done this summer – aside from continued environmental baseline studies and reclaiming test drill pads— but that core samples collected during previous summers were tested for its quality. After making a graphite concentrate and purifying the graphite thermally, the results looked promising to the GraphiteOne crew. “We were successful in getting to 99.95 percent pure carbon in our graphite, which is important for energy storage specifications,” said Smith.
The purified graphite was then used in laboratory tests and turned into coated spherical graphite. The goal is to produce this coated spherical graphite as the end product and to market to battery makers as it is the material for anodes in lithium-ion batteries. “We felt that it is important to prove that we can make this end product from the graphite we have here at Graphite Creek. Each graphite deposit has different quality of graphite so it’s important that you have the appropriate quality,” added Smith.
They have made several batteries and were pleased with the outcome. “In general, they held the energy almost to the maximum, on repeated charges, and went almost back to maximum energy storage amount,” Smith said.
GraphiteOne General Manager of Operations Dave Hembree explained that this coated spherical graphite is used in anodes of batteries that power cell phones, cameras, drills and vacuum cleaners but the largest growing market is in batteries for electric cars and trucks.
But it’s still a long way before graphite will be mined at the site. Smith said that it will take at least four more years to go through the process of several major engineering and economical studies. “The first one is the preliminary economic assessment and we expect that to be completed a month from now,” said Smith. That study is the first report that determines if the project is economically viable on a broad basis, using the information that is available at the moment, he explained. “This will become publically available and we come back to the communities and it will be presented and that will be our first look to see if we have an economically viable project.”
Smith said that from there, “we continue our fundraising and move through the next two steps which will be a prefeasibility and a feasibility study. And it will take us probably four more years to go through those steps to where we get to the point when we have the engineering done at the project in fine detail and at which we can begin construction.”