Tirupati ramps up Madagascar graphite flake capacity

Tirupati Graphite has commissioned a new 18,000 tonnes per year unit to bring its overall flake graphite production capacity to 30,000 tpy, the company has reported

Tirupati Graphite has begun production from the newly built 18,000-tpy flake graphite production facilities at its Sahamamy project on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, it said on Monday, February 20. This brings the total flake graphite capacity of the UK-based company to 30,000 tpy.

Tirupati will continue to bring projects to nameplate capacity in the short term, while it aims to achieve 84,000 tpy output from its Madagascar projects and to further develop the assets it is acquiring in Mozambique, so as to exploit the opportunities presented by energy transition and the green economy, executive chairman Shishir Poddar said.

The company will continue to ramp-up its capacity in line with demand from the market, Shishir told Fastmarkets in 2022.

Now that the new facilities have been commissioned, operations were expected to reach the minimum stable output of 80% of nameplate capacity by March 2023, the company said.

Commissioning the new units at Sahamamy was pushed back by the effects of Cyclone Cheneso, which battered Madagascar in January 2023, and led to shipping delays and weather-related interruptions.

The country was now braced for the arrival of Cyclone Freddy, which was expected to make landfall on February 21.

Tirupati was also in production at the Vatomina flake graphite project, also in Madagascar, where it was on schedule to achieve nameplate capacity of 12,000 tpy, the company said.

Combined graphite production guidance from the two projects for the first quarter of 2023 was expected to be 2,500-2,900 tonnes, and to rise to 6,100-6,500 tonnes in the second quarter.

The growth will primarily be a result of the developments at Sahamamy.

Tirupati was also in the process of acquiring the graphite assets of Suni Resources. Both companies were working to complete the deal, which would include the Montepuez and Balama Central graphite projects in Mozambique, in the coming weeks.

For 2022-32, Fastmarkets research expects a compound annual growth rate of 12% in natural graphite demand, largely due to exponential growth in the demand for electric vehicle batteries.

But flake graphite prices over the past 12 months have been relatively stable, with demand and supply in relative balance.

Fastmarkets’ latest price assessment for graphite flake, 94% C, -100 mesh, cif Europe, was $750 per tonne on February 16. This compared with $780 per tonne on February 17, 2022.

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