Kibaran Resources (ASX:KNL) continues to deliver impressive drilling results from the Epanko deposit within the Mahenge Graphite Project in Tanzania, with each new set of results better than the last.
Kibaran's shares are expected to open firmer at the open.
The latest reverse circulation highlight is: 28 metres at 13.8% Total Graphitic Carbon TGC, including 18 metres at 17.0% TGC and 22 metres at 12.3% TGC, including 12 metres at 15.5% TGC.
These results complement earlier assays that delivered significant intersections and high-grade graphite with intersected grades as high as 20.1% TGC.
Importantly - all drill holes intersected high-grade, premium large flake graphite mineralisation, with the majority encountering graphite mineralisation from surface to the end of hole.
These results could be just the beginning, considering that the Epanko graphite mineralisation remains open at depth and in all directions.
A near-term key catalyst is a resource estimation upgrade which is already well underway, with current development studies to be fast tracked to development decision.
Assays of this quality have the potential to attract a direct relationship with a major end user, which Kibaran is seeking.
Andrew Spinks, managing director, commented:
"These latest results continue to confirm the premium quality of Epanko graphite and position Kibaran positively in terms of what graphite traders outside of China consider fundamental prerequisites for commercially viable mining operations; large flake size distribution, +99.9% purity, expandable large flake properties and one or more binding off-take agreements.
"The Company looks forward to delivering the resource upgrade in the very near future and the subsequent release of the updated Epanko Scoping Study."
The latest results support previous intersections that include:
- 56 metres at 8.8% TGC from surface (MHRC035), including 25 metres at 10.0% TGC; and
- 78 metres at 8.0% TGC from surface (MHRC036), including 42 metres at 10.2% TGC.
Recent testwork was undertaken at NGS Naturgraphit GmbH (NYSE:NGS), an independent company, which specialises in world-wide graphite sales and carbon based products located in Germany.
It was overseen by the company's graphite trader under the partnership and sales arrangement.
Results achieved from the 14 kilogram sample of flake graphite taken from Epanko include:
- 99.94% recovery for Extra Jumbo flakes of more than 500 micron size;
- 99.98% recovery for Jumbo flakes of more than 300 microns; and
- 99.95% recovery for Large flakes of more than 180 microns.
Ultra high purity can be reached easily in a single one step process.
Importantly, extremely low impurities are recorded confirming that there is no limitation on the application and uses of Epanko flake graphite.
In addition, a test for graphite flake size distribution found that larger flakes made up a significant portion of the sample.
Extra Jumbo flakes made up 8.4%, Jumbo 13.2% and Large flakes 28.6%.
Current graphite industry
- Market requires graphite grade of 94-97% C and seeks large flake > 180 micron.
- Several types of graphite: Expanded, Spherical and Micronised.
- Spherical graphite is immediate key growth sector; key graphite ingredient in batteries.
- Battery applications: not necessary to have high graphite grade, rather flake size and conductivity are key properties.
- Thermally efficient building products are expected to drive demand for Expanded Graphite, which is forecast to be a larger market than Spherical Graphite.
- Single graphite deposits will not control the market, end users seek supply diversity and market traders want exclusivity.
- New production unlikely to flood market; if demand increases there is likely to be a massive shortfall of graphite.
Economic graphite occurences
Economic Graphite occurrence's depend on a number factors, such as:
- Grade > +5 % TGC and sufficient tonnage to support mine life (~ +2Mt).
- Operate in low cost environments or alternatively have large flake distributions.
- Near surface, thick high grade zones of mineralisation assist low operating costs.
Significant weathering- simple liberation with no fine grinding or acid treatments.
Commercial viability is assisted by having the following key attributes.
- Low percentage of fine flake (< 75micron) = low value and likely unsaleable.
- High percentage of large flake provides higher basket prices and increased saleability.
What is important
- Quality (Purity) is more important than tonnes and grade.
- Grade is not related to flake size. Flake size is determined from metamorphic gradient and mineral crystallisation.
- Hence, not all graphite occurrence being explored will become commercially viable to mine.
The results highlight the best ever graphite intersection at the Epanko deposit is the high-grade, intersecting premium large flake graphite mineralisation.
News flow is set to continue for Kibaran, with the next key catalysts including more drilling results next week.
A resource upgrade is also underway, which is expected to significantly increase the deposits size, while boosting part of the resource into the higher confidence Indicated and Measured categories.
Proactive Investors expects a substantial increase in the resource.
The company's next step is to expand this to include a direct relationship with a major end user, and these results will open doors for that opportunity.
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