palladium graphite

Syrah Resources has announced the production of anode precursor material (purified spherical graphite) to battery specification from the Company’s Battery Anode Material (BAM) facility in Vidalia (Louisiana, USA).

This is a key milestone for progression of the Company’s strategy to become the first ex-China vertically integrated producer of Active Anode Material (AAM) from natural graphite.

Read more about battery metals

Overview of Syrah’s BAM project

Development at the BAM project to date has been focused on establishing production lines that are of sufficient scale to demonstrate Syrah’s capability to supply ex-Asia markets with AMM that:

  • has equivalent or superior physical and electrochemical properties to currently available material
  • is cost competitive with incumbent graphite supply (currently 100% based in Asia)
  • provides an environmentally superior alternative to existing AAM supply and,
  • is capable of supplying growing US and European markets

Syrah’s site in Vidalia is well located with access to key utilities (water/gas/power) and nearby barge/port access to the Mississippi river for potential barge transport of natural graphite feedstock to Vidalia from the Port of New Orleans in future.

Proximity to established petrochemical industry provides access to key consumables (hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, caustic) and skilled workforce.

The site has confirmed compliance with water and air discharge regulations for large scale commercial production of AAM.

The operating plant currently installed at Vidalia includes 5 kt per annum capacity of graphite milling, batch scale purification capability (200 t per annum capacity) and all ancillary plant required to demonstrate capability to scale the graphite facility whilst maintaining product quality, environmental compliance and best practice health and safety procedures.

Procurement of a furnace is in progress, with installation expected to be completed in Q1 2021, which will enable qualification volumes of AAM from anode precursor to be produced at Vidalia.

In the meantime, anode precursor is now available for qualification with existing AAM producers and will also be processed to AAM via toll treatment to accelerate ongoing strategic and financial partnership discussions and end customer interactions.

Learnings from operating the installed plant at Vidalia and ongoing product development work is being incorporated into an in-progress BFS which is assessing the economics of expanding the capacity of the existing facility to 10 Kt per annum of AAM production capability initially, and then scale up to 40 Kt per annum.

Read more about Syrah Resources

Key points:

  • Anode precursor material to battery specification has been produced at Vidalia and will be dispatched to potential customers and supply chain partners for testing and qualification.
  • China currently produces 100% of the natural graphite anode precursor material used for production of lithium-ion batteries in Electric Vehicles (EV), as well as other applications. Syrah believes the Vidalia operation is the farthest progressed alternate source of natural graphite anode precursor material ex-China.
  • Anode precursor from Vidalia will be further processed to AAM via toll treatment and from a furnace to be installed at Vidalia over the coming quarters, which will further facilitate ongoing strategic, financial partnership, and end-customer interactions.
  • Benchmarking of the physical and electrochemical properties of material produced at pilot scale demonstrates that planned products from the facility in Vidalia will deliver equivalent or superior performance to material supplied by major incumbent industry participants.
  • Current installed plant at Vidalia is capable of 5 Kt per annum milling and commercial qualification scale of 200 tpa purification. An in-progress Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) is assessing the economics of expanding the capacity of the existing facility to 10kt per annum of AAM production capability initially, and then scale up to 40 Kt per annum.
  • The globally significant Balama Graphite Operation provides a strategic ex-China source of natural graphite feedstock to vertically integrate with Vidalia, uniquely positioning Syrah to service ex-Asia anode supply chains, including the growing US and European markets.
  • Accelerated by the impacts of COVID-19, localised supply chains are increasingly recognised as offering competitive advantage and security, and the strategic nature of critical battery minerals is growing in importance with both governments and supply chain participants.