London — The Australian based mining company Syrah Resources has announced that it has signed a binding sales agreement for the supply of graphite from its Balama project in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
Under the agreement, it will provide 30,000 tonnes of graphite in the first year of production to Jixi BTR Graphite Industrial, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shenzhen BTR New Energy Materials (BTR).
BTR is based in Shenzhen in southern China and is the world's largest manufacturer of battery anode materials for lithium-ion batteries. The raw material for the anodes is graphite.
According to Syrah's managing director, Shaun Verner, "this contract is a significant and material step forward for Syrah. The relationship with BTR will see Syrah's high-quality graphite placed into the lithium-ion battery market".
He emphasised that "Syrah remains the only large-scale, fully funded, natural graphite project entering production".
The Balama project is still in its construction phase and is expected to begin production in the third quarter of this year. It holds a world-class deposit of graphite, along with vanadium, and Syrah calculates that Balama will become the world's largest producer of high purity graphite, with sufficient reserves for forty years of production.
Graphite is a form of carbon that is highly valued due to its properties as a conductor of electricity. It is also the basis for the "miracle material" graphene, which is the strongest material ever measured, with vast potential for use in the electronics industries. In addition, graphite is used for high-quality steel production.
Lithium batteries are used in everything from mobile phones to electric cars. With more and more car manufacturers announcing that they are planning to only produce either electric or hybrid cars within the next decade, demand for lithium is expected to grow rapidly. The market research company Transparency Market Research estimates that the lithium-ion battery market is expected to grow globally from 30 billion US dollars in 2015 to over 75 billion dollars by 2024.