From December 1, China will require companies to get special export permits if they want to ship high purity, high-hardness and high intensity synthetic graphite and natural flake graphite-derived products out of the Middle Kingdom.
According to ING, quoting the US Geological Survey, China mines around 850,000t of graphite, accounting for 65 per cent of the world total.
“Graphite prices are likely to rise, but China’s latest move will also intensify the need to find alternative sources of this key battery material and push production out of China,” ING’s Ewa Manthey said.
Good news for Kingsland (ASX:KNG) and its Leliyn project, which hosts a 20km outcropping graphitic schist with a conceptual Exploration Target of between 200Mt and 250Mt grading 8 per cent to 11 per cent TGC.
Recent bonanza intersections topping 206m grading 10 per cent graphite have proved the “world class” scale and grade potential and the company is now looking to convert a portion of that target into resources.
The latest strong assays and progress on the resource and metallurgical fronts further strengthen the outlook for Leliyn, which also has significant gallium within the graphitic shist – another critical metal used in semiconductors.
Drilling confirms extent of exploration target
KNG’s initial RC drilling program at Leliyn is nearing completion and has demobilised from site following the completion of 53 holes for 5400m.
Recent drilling was completed on the northwestern side of the project area with broad zones of graphitic schist intersected.
The latest total graphitic carbon assays from RC holes include:
- 153m at 6.8 per cent TGC from surface in hole LERC_39
- 114m at 8 per cent TGC from 1m in hole LERC_31.
Both holes are more than 1km along strike to the north from previously reported intersections of 206m @ 10 per cent and 209m @ 7.4 per cent TGC.
Assay results show that the schist contains levels of graphite consistent with the exploration target, confirming the exploration target extents, the company says.
The diamond core rig is currently drilling the penultimate hole and when finished will have drilled 11 holes for about 2400m.
“We now have significant graphite intersections over 5km of strike length of the graphitic schist unit,” KNG managing director Richard Maddocks says.
“The first metallurgical sample has been submitted for flotation test work with results expected in coming months and work on the resource estimate is starting.
“These important project milestones coincide with China recently announcing export controls on flake graphite and spherical graphite products used in batteries.
“This heralds a renewed focus on graphite as a critical mineral and Kingsland is well placed to play an important role in securing future graphite supplies with successful drilling and metallurgical programs.”
Once all the assay results have been returned by late November, mineral resource estimation can commence.
Kingsland has engaged geologists with extensive graphite resource estimation experience through Auralia Mining Consulting of Perth. In addition, Kingsland has engaged a consultant metallurgist with graphite experience to provide oversight on an initial program of flotation test work.
This test work is expected to take several months to complete and will focus on developing a beneficiation flowsheet with the aim of producing a high-grade graphite concentrate.