NextSource Materials commissions graphite mine in Madagascar

NextSource has commissioned the Molo flake graphite mine and is installing a hybrid power plant for the project on the East African island of Madagascar, the company reported on Thursday March 23

Up to 33% of the graphite mine’s electricity needs will be met using renewable energy via the hybrid power plant, the company said.

East Africa is emerging as a global hotspot for graphite flake production.

Tirupati Graphite and Etablissements Gallois (Madagraphite) are already producing graphite on Madagascar. And Syrah Resources has its Balama flake project in Mozambique, on the east coast of mainland Africa.

NextSource Materials has not indicated the volume of material it expects to produce in the short term now that the Molo mine is being commissioned.

But graphite flake from the project is expected to be processed primarily into coated spherical graphite (SPG) for the anode sector.

There is a significant price premium for the processing of SPG from fine graphite. Coating SPG is the final stage in the production of the active anode material used in lithium-ion anodes.

Fastmarkets assessed the price of graphite flake, 94% C, -100 mesh, fob China at $730-770 per tonne and the price of uncoated spherical graphite, 99.95% C, 15 microns, fob China at $2,500-2,800 per tonne on March 23.

The spherical graphite market has been subdued since June 2022, but Fastmarkets’ analysts expect it to return to a deficit in the second half of 2023 due to the anticipated ramp-up in consumption from the lithium-ion battery market.

“NextSource is taking advantage of this tremendous market opportunity by creating a substantive niche for itself within the global lithium-ion battery supply chain through the commissioning of its first graphite mine and planned construction of its first battery anode facility,” president and chief executive officer Craig Scherba said.

NextSource, which is based in Canada, said it plans to become a vertically integrated global supplier of battery materials and to construct multiple battery anode facilities around the world. The first of these is planned for Mauritius because it is relatively close to Madagascar and is on shipping routes to Asian markets, the company said on February 28.

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