London — The Australian mining company Syrah Resources has announced that it has begun commercial production of graphite at its mine in Balama district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
The mine was officially inaugurated by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in April last year although it began mining graphite in November 2017. Since then it has been building up its capacity and last year produced 104,000 tonnes of natural graphite. In addition, the company is improving the rate of graphite recovery, which increased from 53 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 to 70 per cent in the last quarter.
According to Syrah's Managing Director, Shaun Verner, "the declaration of commercial production represents a key milestone for Syrah, reflecting the significantly improved production consistency and strong recovery improvements".
Syrah has binding agreements with Chinese buyers and will this year provide 20,000 tonnes of graphite to Taida-Huarun and between 48,000 and 60,000 tonnes to Qingdao Langruite Graphite. In addition, it has set up its own production plant in Louisiana, in the United States which will produce up to 5,000 tonnes of spherical graphite per year for use as battery anodes.
The Balama mine covers 106 square kilometres and is reported to hold the largest graphite reserves ever discovered. It is an open cast mine and the company estimates the lifespan of the resource at more than fifty years.
Graphite is a highly valued form of carbon due to its properties as a conductor of electricity. It is used in batteries and fuel cells and is the basis for the "miracle material" graphene, which is the strongest material ever measured, with vast potential for use in the electronics industries.