Battery Minerals hits construction milestones at Montepuez project

Australia’s Battery Minerals (ASX:BAT) said Thursday development of its $51-million Montepuez graphite project, in Mozambique, has achieved key construction milestones.

The East Africa-focused explorer said that both a permanent 100-person accommodation camp and the tailings storage facility were well advanced. It added it expected to commission the water treatment facility, electrical fit-out and sewage system in early November.

The company has appointed Origin Capital as financial adviser to advance its funding strategy and seek for potential debt providers.

To support this process, a due diligence review of the Montepuez project – including a site visit and technical assessment – will be conducted.

Company wants to make sure the mine is in production when the demand and price of graphite takes off, as predicted.

“We want to ensure that we are in production when the demand and price of graphite takes off,” managing director David Flanagan said in the statement.

“Graphite market experts continue to forecast strong demand and price growth on the back of the lithium battery boom,’” he said, adding he believed Montepuez was able to capitalize on the lithium battery boom due to the operation’s low-cost base, simple processing route and offtake agreements.

Battery minerals, in particular lithium and cobalt, have attracted lots of investors and media attention this year. But graphite, one of three naturally occurring carbons on Earth, seems to have been overlooked.

There is as much as 40 times the amount of graphite in a lithium-ion battery as lithium. This is one of the key drivers for the increasing demand for the mineral, which is expected to jump by as much as 200 percent by 2020. Only between Dec. 2016 and Dec. 2017, prices for the metal climbed 25% rise on the back of surging demand.

Graphene, a recently developed “super-mineral” that comes from graphite, is believed to be able to dramatically improve battery technologies.

Less than a year ago the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology announced that its researchers had developed a “graphene ball,” a material that would allow lithium-ion batteries to charge five times faster and have 45 percent more capacity. That alone could have big impact on both consumer electronics and the automotive industries.

Initially set to produce 50,000 tonnes of graphite a year, Montepuez is expected to ramp up to over 100,000 tonnes per annum by 2020.