In a first for Australia’s battery minerals industry, International Graphite today announced the successful commissioning of its new graphite micronising plant at Collie, south of Perth.
The qualification-scale microniser, with a capacity of 200 tonnes per annum, is the largest in Australia and a milestone in the development of a domestic graphite industry. It will be the first to produce graphite products in Australia for customer acceptance testing.
The new plant is the precursor to a 4,000 tonnes per annum commercial micronising facility the Company expects to have operating at Collie within 18 months. Construction of the ~$12.5M plant could be given the green light as early as mid year.
Establishing a standalone micronising business is a novel road to market for the aspiring graphite producer whose ultimate goal is to be producing advanced battery anode materials at Collie from its 100% owned Springdale Graphite Project near Hopetoun in Western Australia.
A fully integrated graphite supply from Western Australia will be one of the first of its kind in the western world. The plan has already attracted the attention of potential customers and finance partners in Australia, Japan, Korea and North America.
Micronising will enable the company to develop a customer base, gain operating experience, build markets for future by-products, and generate cashflow.
“We see breaking into the micronised graphite market as an important step in developing our Springdale – Collie mine to market strategy,” said Managing Director and CEO Andrew Worland.
“Demand for batteries will continue to grow. There are already more than 240 battery gigafactories operating worldwide, and up to 400 expected to open by 2030. All of them will need a secure source of graphite materials.
“Australian companies like us are in the box seat to deliver. We have the assets, the technical capability and Western Australia has an unparallelled reputation as a top resource supplier with outstanding ESG credentials.”
The company’s strategy has won favour with both the Western Australian Government, which supports early micronising as an important contributor to Collie’s economic transition from coal, and the Australian Government, which recognises the critical role graphite plays in the battery minerals mix. Together, they have contributed $6.7m in grant funding to International Graphite.
More than 100 jobs are expected to be created at Springdale and Collie.
Micronised graphite is used in many industrial products, from lubricants, polymers, plastics and ceramics, to lightweight structural materials and fire resistant building materials. As well as being a critical conductive additive in the cathode of lithium-ion batteries, it is also the first stage in producing graphite anode material for battery-powered technologies, particularly electric vehicles and green energy storage.
Currently almost 90% of the world’s processed graphite comes from China, which introduced export restrictions in December, adding further pressure to future supply.
A lithium-ion battery can use up to ten times more graphite than lithium. The battery in a standard electric car requires about 75 kilograms of graphite (approximately one kilogram for every kilowatt hour of power capacity).