Kibaran Resources' (ASX:KNL) joint venture 3D Graphtech Industries has signed an initial agreement with the CSIRO to investigate research opportunities in 3D printing using graphite and graphene inks.
3D Graphtech Industries was formed in July after the company signed a binding agreement with 3D Group to study the application of graphite and graphene in 3D printing.
The agreement with CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) is focused on a white paper study to identify technological problems or gaps in the intended market that could be addressed by a research and development program and deliver commercial solutions.
This is expected to take six weeks.
Subject to a successful outcome, it may lead to a longer-term relationship between Graphtech and the CSIRO.
The rapidly evolving 3D printing industry is forecast to grow to US$16.2 billion by 2018 from US$3.8 billion.
In particular, graphene is projected to revolutionise the 3D printing process due to its unique one-atom thick structure coupled with its strength, flexibility and ability to conduct electricity better than traditional metals such as copper.
"The company is very pleased this initial step has been taken by Graphtech less than two months after the binding alliance with 3D Group was executed," executive director Andrew Spinks said.
"We are particularly delighted the first agreement is with an internationally respected research organisation such as the CSIRO. Kibaran, via Graphtech, is aiming to give its shareholders exposure to a very exciting and emerging new technological frontier."
3D Graphtech Industries, which is equally owned by Kibaran and 3D Group, is responsible for pursuing patents and collaborative partnerships.
3D printing is a revolutionary technology that involves the creation of three dimensional, solid objects from a digital file, of virtually any shape.
It has the potential bring about a quantum shift in the way new materials and products are made with commerciality proven by the production of car parts, jewellery and dental applications such as crowns.
Investigations are also underway to print houses for a fraction of the cost.
Kibaran had earlier this month released an upgraded Scoping Study for its Epanko graphite deposit in Tanzania based on its Indicated Resource of 12.8 million tonnes at 10% TGC for 1,281,200 tonnes of contained graphite.
Net Present Value is estimated at $213 million, with a capital payback period of just 2.5 years, and a substantial mine life of 27 years.
The project boasts a low strip ratio, with the first 15 years at 1.3 to 1, and life of mine at 2.2 to 1.
These estimations provide confidence for Kibaran to advance immediately to a Feasibility Study based on production of 40,000tpa, and the ability to increase production as market demand rises.
This is based on a forecast Capital Expenditure of $56 million for processing 420,000 tonnes a year and an estimated Operating Cost of $489 per tonne of concentrate.
Notably, this is based on the treatment of just half the current total mineral resources estimate for the Epanko deposit, leaving strong upside potential.
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