Evolution Energy's graphite 'easily' exceeds purity levels required for battery applications

Tue 12 Jul 22, 10:02am (AEST)
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Key Points

  • Thermal purification testwork results achieved industry-leading purity levels as a battery precursor
  • Battery anode testwork is ongoing with further results expected in the coming weeks
  • US graphite imports tripled since August 2021 as EV demand surges

Graphite supplied by Evolution Energy (ASX: EV1) has passed thermal purification testwork with flying colours, easily exceeding required purity levels for battery and nuclear applications. 

“We are excited to have achieved industry-leading purity levels of 99.9995 wt.% C using thermal purification as opposed to most conventional graphite purification technologies that use toxic leaching agents,” said managing director, Phil Hoskins.

“The successful purification results indicate that Chilalo graphite is highly amenable to a range of value-added applications in advanced battery systems, including lithium-ion battery anodes,” added Hoskins.

Evolution Energy is actively seeking opportunities to climb up the value chain for its high quality graphite fines from the Chilalo Project in Tanzania.

Purified graphite used in battery applications typically sells for US$8,000 to US$18,000 a tonne, well above graphite concentrate prices of US$700 to US$3,500 a tonne. 

The thermal purification advantage 

100% of the world’s battery graphite is produced in China using highly toxic chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid. 

Evolution Energy said that the thermal  purification process, particularly if powered by renewable energy sources, would substantially minimise the environmental footprint of the battery anode supply chain.

Coupled with the company's ambitions to develop the Chilalo Project as the world's first net zero carbon graphite mine, Evolution Energy believes its positioned to produce the world's most green and sustainable battery anode materials.

The chosen technology for thermal purification is expected to be substantially more energy efficient and produce a ‘super-premium’ product at approximately US$500 a tonne, undercutting China’s traditional acid graphite refinement techniques that cost approximately US$700 a tonne. 

Next steps

Evolution Energy said it is “well progressed” on a formal agreement with its US technology partner to leverage their advanced technologies and facilities to toll treat Chilalo graphite for product qualification initiatives. 

Downstream processing and battery anode testwork is still in progress and the company expects to provide further results in the coming weeks.

If successful, Evolution Energy said it expects to undertake a feasibility study on the production of coated battery anode materials and other advanced battery products. 

In parallel, the company expects to deliver Chilalo's DFS optimisation and Front End Engineering Design in September, delivering an updated cost estimate which is critical to finalising project financing.

A shift away from China

Natural graphite imports to the US tripled between August 2021 and April 2022, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Monthly total value and average price of US graphite imports over time
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

"Macroeconomic factors have driven demand for autos, particularly electric vehicles. ... New graphite supply needs to be brought online quickly to meet the necessary demand," John DeMaio, CEO of graphite producer Graphex Technology LLC, told S&P Global Commodity Insights.

China has a major foothold on graphite production, account for approximately 62% of US imports between August 2021 and April 2022.

This comes during a time where Chinese graphite exports have become increasing unreliable due to lockdowns, and a broader shift away from a reliance on China for materials.

Evolution Energy expects to make a final investment decision for the Chilalo Graphite Project in the second-half of 2022.

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Written By

Kerry Sun

Finance Writer & Social Media

Kerry holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Monash University. He is an avid swing trader, focused on technical set ups and breakouts. Outside of writing and trading, Kerry is a big UFC fan, loves poker and training Muay Thai. Connect via LinkedIn or email.

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