Northern Graphite (TSXV: NGC) announced that testing carried out in Germany by ProGraphite concluded that concentrates at the company’s Bissett Creek deposit in Ontario are well suited for the spheronization process with an above-average yield, narrow particle size distribution and relatively high tap density.
Spheronization is the first step in the manufacturing of spherical graphite or SPG, the anode material used in lithium-ion batteries. It involves micronizing the graphite flakes and rolling them up like a snowball. The spherical shape improves packing density in the anode which means higher capacity batteries, it creates more sites for lithium-ion intercalation which results in better battery performance and it enables the anode material to be laid down quickly and uniformly in thin sheets during the battery manufacturing process.
Using Northern Graphite’s raw material, ProGraphite produced three SPG products with average sizes of approximately 15, 17 and 20 microns. The SPG yield ranged between 52.3 and 55.3% compared to industry averages of 35 to 40%. The particle size distribution was relatively steep in all cases which is a desirable quality. The tap density was also relatively high, ranging between 94 and 99%.
According to Northern Graphite, these results reflect the high bulk density of Bissett Creek concentrates, which is a requirement for high-quality SPG.
“The large flake nature of our Bissett Creek deposit provides Northern with the luxury of starting with a project that is ‘right sized’ for the current market and has robust economics based on higher-margin industrial markets that are here now,” Gregory Bowes, the mining company’s CEO, said in a media statement.
“However, we must also be prepared for higher prices and better margins in the battery anode material market as they are necessary to stimulate the development of the multiple new graphite mines needed for automobile manufacturers to meet their EV sales targets.”
Bowes also said that his firm is ready to respond to potential supply shortages by turning all of its production into anode material regardless of flake size.
Bissett Creek is an advanced stage project located between the cities of Ottawa and North Bay in eastern Canada.