Emerging graphite and battery market supplier Kibaran Resources has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japanese commodities trader Sojitz Corporation (Sojitz), 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 tpa offtake deals last year with European customers including German global industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp Metallurgical Products .
The Sojitz MoU is expected to consume a large portion of Kibaran’s remaining initial 10 000tpa of graphite production.
The MoU centres around the trader’s sales and marketing of Kibaran’s high purity natural flake graphite concentrate from Epanko – one of three graphite projects Kibaran is developing in Tanzania as a globally focused graphite mining and processing hub.
The MOU lays the groundwork for further commercial negotiations, but does not compel either party to enter into further commercial arrangements.
An in-principal agreement has been reached in the MOU that if a binding agreement is negotiated Sojitz will only source graphite in Tanzania from Kibaran and will be the sole purchaser and distributer of graphite concentrate originating from the Epanko project for the following markets and territories:
- Lithium ion battery anode producers in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and the United States;
- Refractory grade graphite in Japan and Taiwan; and
- The lubricant and building materials chain in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
The MOU follows detailed due diligence by Sojitz and the completion by Kibaran in August 2015 of a specific and favourable scoping study into establishing a battery grade spherical graphite manufacturing plant in Tanzania within 12-18 months of the company commencing graphite production at Epanko. The MOU sets out that Sojitz will undertake further testing.
The battery plant study was in addition to Kibaran’s then just completed robust bankable feasibility study for Epanko.
Kibaran said the results of the battery plant scoping study, had since attracted interest from several potential international stakeholders with testwork confirming Epanko’s graphite mineralisation to be of ultra-high quality and exceptionally well suited for the production of spherical graphite for the battery market.
“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,” says Sojitz assistant general manager Togo Teruhiko.
Kibaran MD Andrew Spinks commented: “ 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,” he said.