South Star nears startup of the Americas’ first new graphite mine in over 25 years

Aerial view of the Santa Cruz graphite project. (Image courtesy of South Star Battery Metal.)

South Star Battery Metals (TSXV: STS) is preparing to begin production at the Phase 1 plant of its flagship Santa Cruz graphite mine in Bahia, Brazil, within the next few weeks.

The company announced this week that it has made the final payment on the 3.25 square kilometres of land purchase required for the construction of the Phase 1 mine and plant facilities.

Santa Cruz is scheduled to complete the Phase 1 plant construction in June 2024, followed by an estimated six weeks of commissioning and production ramp-up.

The current Phase 1 plant can produce approximately 1,000 tonnes monthly once steady-state operations are reached, the company said. In February, it received environmental approval for Phases 2 and 3 for the mine.

Brazil is the second-largest graphite-producing region in the world, having more than 80 years of continuous mining.

Santa Cruz has at-surface mineralization in friable materials, and successful large-scale pilot-plant testing (>30 tonnes) has been completed. The company’s testing results show that approximately 65% of graphite concentrate is +80 mesh with good recoveries and 95%-99% graphitic carbon.

Santa Cruz will be the first new graphite producer in the Americas since 1996. Phase 2 production (25,000 tonnes per annum) is partially funded and planned for 2026, while Phase 3 (50,000 tonnes per annum) is scheduled for 2028.

Shares of South Star rose 14% by noon EDT. The company has a market capitalization of C$34.7 million ($25.3 million).