Tanzania – IMX Resources, the ASX-listed graphite junior’s strategy to pursue the lucrative expandable graphite market has been validated after end user testing confirmed the suitability of its flagship Chilalo graphite project to supply this high growth sector.

Highlights

  • Testwork conducted by major Chinese end user confirms expansion rates exceeding 1 000 times – (ie. 1g of Chilalo graphite produces over 1 litre in volume of expandable graphite).
  • Chilalo graphite has highest expandability of all graphite they have tested, both domestic and international.
  • Confirms suitability for the high-margin, fast-growing expandable graphite market.
  • Confirms Chilalo’s coarse flake graphite is suitable for production of high-value products such as graphite foil and graphite paper whilst Chilalo’s fine and medium flake graphite confirmed as ideally suited to the high volume flame retardant building materials market.
  • Demand for expandable graphite set to rapidly accelerate following introduction of Chinese legislation mandating the use of flame-retardant building materials in construction of new buildings and renovations to existing buildings.
  • Discussions with major Chinese consumer of expandable graphite at an advanced stage

Chilalo coarse flake graphite in excess of 180 microns has been identified as suitable for the production of high value expandable graphite products such as graphite foil, graphite paper, knitted tape (high temperature and fire resistance), narrow flexible graphite strip, and other graphite based products requiring high rates of expansion.

Chilalo fine and medium flake graphite (<180 microns) has been confirmed as suitable for application in flame retardant building products, where lower rates of expansion are required.

The high expansion rates mean that for the same quantity of graphite, Chilalo produces a higher volume of expandable graphite meaning the product can attract a premium due to a higher “value in use”.

IMX MD Phil Hoskins said the results opened up enormous new market opportunities for Chilalo graphite and reduced IMX’s reliance on the market to supply graphite into lithium-ion batteries.

“Coarse flake graphite is theoretically suitable to many different end uses including refractories and spherical graphite, but in the absence of costly chemical or thermal purification, maximum revenue is achieved selling it into the expandable graphite market.”

“However, not all graphite expands and some graphite expands at a higher rate and it is therefore pleasing that our targeted end user has confirmed Chilalo’s world-class expansion rates and validated the company’s strategy of targeting this high growth market.

“Chilalo’s finer flake product is still expected to be suitable for the manufacture of spherical graphite for lithium-ion batteries, ensuring the project maintains exposure to this rapidly growing market segment. However, spherical graphite is exclusively produced using fine and medium flake graphite which is likely to be an oversupplied market.”

China has approximately 800 000 tpa idle capacity for finer flake graphite and Syrah Resources plans to produce over 300 000 tpa, the majority of which is finer flake targeting the battery market.

Having received confirmation that the rate of expandability of Chilalo graphite at finer flake sizes is suitable for the production of expandable graphite, the company has product optionality in that it can choose to supply either the battery market or the rapidly growing expandable graphite market where its use in flame retardant building materials is expected to offer outstanding opportunities for IMX.

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