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Syrah Resources: Balama Delivers Up Valuable Vanadium By-Product To Complement Graphite

Syrah Resources (ASX: SYR) could potentially deliver a very valuable by-product, vanadium, from its world class Balama Graphite Project in Mozambique, with rock chip sampling showing economic grades.

New assays from trench rock chip sampling delivered an average grade from the 328 samples of 0.17% vanadium or 0.3% vanadium oxide, with some of the zones hosting substantial quantities of vanadium.

Vanadium is primarily used as an alloy to strengthen steel additive and demand is expected to soar as a supply deficiency is forecast to set in as early as 2013.

The commodity is used in lithium ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars and as a substantial component in Vanadium redox batteries.

Demand is largely driven by continued growth of emerging economies, such as China and India, and recent legislation in China to increase vanadium content in steel rebar.

This early stage trenching program at Balama was originally designed to locate high grade graphite zones for drill targeting and vanadium was not specifically targeted.

The eight trenches covered a total length of 1,809 metres with the longest trench (T5) covering 350 metres perpendicular to the graphitic stratigraphy.

The highest grade trenches were T3 with an average of 0.23% vanadium and T1 with an average of 0.21% vanadium.

A grade of above 0.2% vanadium content is commonly considered to be economic. For example, Atlantic Limited's (ASX: ATI) recently commissioned Windimurra Vanadium Mine in Western Australia has a total Resource of 210 million tonnes at 0.26% vanadium.

This is extremely promising for Syrah when you consider that higher grade mineralisation, with peak values of up to 0.29% vanadium, exist in each trench at Balama.

It looks likely that Syrah will be able to define substantial medium grade zones of around 0.25% vanadium within an extremely large lower grade Resource of 0.15% vanadium.

The potential for much higher grade zones of vanadium exists with earlier geochemical sampling at Balama showing vanadium grades of as high as 1.25%.

Syrah believes that follow up of the high grade samples and further exploration in similar environments has the potential to result in very high grade areas of above 0.5% vanadium.

Metallurgical testwork

Syrah has previously revealed that is has achieved a greater than 95% carbon concentrate by simple flotation at Balama.

The waste from the graphite production will be rich in vanadium after the graphite has been removed.

It should then be a simple process of extracting the roscoelite and other vanadium minerals from the remaining material.

The Bama or Flaketown Mine in Alabama operated in the early 20th century and was a graphite mine producing vanadium as a roscoelite by-product.

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