Tirupati Graphite plc, a fully integrated, revenue generating, specialist graphite producer and graphene and advanced materials developer (earlier post), is acquiring the entire issued share capital of Suni Resources SA. Suni Resources holds the Mozambique portfolio of graphite assets of Battery Minerals Limited, which includes the construction-initiated Montepuez Graphite Project and the advanced feasibility study stage Balama Central Graphite Project.
The acquisition includes all associated assets, infrastructure, permits, licenses and intellectual property on both projects for a total consideration of AU$12.5 million (US$8.9 million) in a cash and shares deal. The acquisition is subject, among other things, to the mandatory shareholder approval of Battery Minerals and approval of the transaction by the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy in Mozambique.
Mozambique is home to commercially significant deposits of graphite; a key determinant of mining opportunities in Mozambique is the global energy transition, which has driven demand for certain minerals needed for electric vehicles and vehicles that rely on hydrogen fuel cells. Mozambique is well-positioned to take advantage of this market boom, with mining operations already expanding across Cabo Delgado—where the projects are located—as well as Gaza, Manica, Maputo, Nampula, Niassa, Tete and Zambezia.
With the acquisition, Tirupati picks up two complementary world-class graphite deposits, spread over a combined 18,500 hectares permit area adding mineral resources of more than 152 million tonnes at 8.5% TGC, significantly increasing the company’s JORC Code (2012) mineral resource base.
Extensive pre-development work and a Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) was conducted by Battery Minerals on the Montepuez project, resulting in a development plan for a 100,000 tonnes annual graphite concentrate capacity in two equal stages.
Construction has been initiated at the Montepuez project for a first stage 50,000 tpa flake graphite project. The project’s graphite product basket is a mix of jumbo, large and small flake, complementing Tirupati’s existing mix of predominantly jumbo and large flake graphite products from Madagascar.
Flake graphite is a critical resource used in more than 150 applications. As well as purity, flake size is one of the main variables determining the product type and end application of flake graphite. For example, jumbo flakes are most suited for use in expandable graphite products, while small flakes are preferred for spherical graphite used in the anode of Li-ion batteries.
At Tirupati’s existing projects—Sahamamy and Vatomina—the company produces high-quality flake graphite concentrate with up to 96% purity with a predominance of jumbo and large sized flakes; the flake-size distribution mix is circa 80% jumbo and large flake, and 20% small flakes.
Notably, the flake sizes at Montepuez and Balama Central are predominantly small flake with the mix being circa 60%-70% small flake and 30%-40% coarser flake. This is key as test works to date has confirmed that the size and quality of the natural flake graphite from these projects is ideally suitable for Li-ion batteries.
Tirupati intends to further optimize the project development plans leveraging application of its extensive and proven expertise in developing graphite projects to minimize investment and optimize operating costs while looking to retain the plans to implement 2 x 50,000 tpa modules plan owing to visible market opportunities in the green economy.
Background. Tirupati continues to advance its operations across its portfolio including primary mining and processing projects in Madagascar, Sahamamy and Vatomina, and speciality graphite and graphene processing businesses in India.
Currently, the global production of graphite and spherical graphite is dominated by China, which uses hydrofluoric acid purification techniques to produce purified spherical graphite. Given the transition of the world to a clean, green energy platform, many lithium-ion batteries (LiB) manufacturers are actively seeking alternative supply options.
With this background, interest in Tirupati’s products have escalated. As recently announced, the company is now working with Hanwa, a world-leading Japanese trading company, which has already built significant interest for Tirupati’s suite of graphite products in markets across Asia. Accordingly, as a fully integrated business, the company is focused on ramping up activities at its primary graphite mining and processing operations as it looks to build its position as a key supplier of high-value flake graphite.
Commissioning at the first 9,000 tpa module of its second project, Vatomina, is almost complete, which will lift primary flake graphite capacity in Madagascar to 12,000 tpa output ahead of increasing total capacity to 84,000 tpa by 2024.
The new acquisition will complement Tirupati’s two primary graphite projects in Madagascar.