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Kibaran Resources signs MoU with Japanese commodities trader Sojitz

Kibaran Resources (ASX:KNL) has signed a landmark non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japanese commodities trader, Sojitz Corporation.

Sojitz is one of Japan's largest trading companies and one of that country's largest flake graphite trader.

The signing is Kibaran's second expansion into international graphite markets, following its binding 10-year 30,000 tonnes per year offtake deals last year with European customers including the German global industrial conglomerate, ThyssenKrupp Metallurgical Products GmbH.

Key highlights of the Sojitz MoU comprise:

The MoU sets out an in-principle understanding for Sojitz and Kibaran to enter into commercial negotiations concerning the following:

- Sojitz to source graphite in Tanzania exclusively from Kibaran's high grade and wholly-owned Epanko project;

- Exclusive sales and marketing by Sojitz, for a range of key applications, in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and the United States for Epanko's high purity natural flake graphite grades;

- Entry via Sojitz to the lucrative supply-chain for the fast growing lithium ion (Li-Ion batteries or LIB) battery market; and

- Unique long-term sales into Japanese and Korean battery anode manufacturers.

MoU details

The MoU centres around the trader's sales and marketing of Kibaran's high purity natural flake graphite concentrate from Epanko.

The agreement also lays the groundwork for further commercial negotiations, but does not compel either party to enter into further commercial arrangements.

Togo Teruhiko, assistant general manager for Sojitz, commented:

"We are delighted to partner Kibaran, given our testwork has shown Epanko's graphite to have superior qualities to its peers and at a time market demand is looking for a new supply of natural graphite outside of existing supply chains."

Analysis

This is a major entry into the battery supply chain for Kibaran, given Panasonic is the major partner for Tesla's gigafactory and importantly, LG Chem recently announced a supply deal with the world's largest energy storage supply company.

The Sojitz MoU is a major milestone for the company, providing Kibaran with additional independent endorsement of the quality and commercial appeal of our Epanko natural flake graphite.

This MoU not only supports the development of Epanko but also advances Kibaran's plans to manufacture spherical graphite, expandable graphite and other value added products for a broad range of industrial applications with forecast significant growth rates.

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