Some more good news for advancing graphite development company Focus Graphite Inc. (TSX VENTURE: FMS) (OTCQX: FCSMF) (FRANKFURT: FKC) today as the company announced positive pilot plant test results from its flagship Lac Knife high-grade flake graphite project, located in the Grenville Geological Province of northeastern Québec. The work was performed as part of the ongoing concentrator flowsheet design process. At 16% carbon content, Lac Knife is the world’s highest-grade technology graphite and, as a result, Focus is expected to have the most competitively priced technology graphite in the world.
The biggest news from the most-recent test results was that the average grade of the coarse size fraction was 98.3% total carbon (Ct), compared with 97.4% Ct in the Phase 2 Locked Cycle Tests. This further metallurgical testing confirms Focus’ previous test results, proving that Focus’ Lac Knife deposit is one of the highest-quality graphite flakes in the world. Testing indicates that due to the high-grade carbon content obtained from the pilot plant testing, Focus will be able to – easily and cost effectively – upgrade all graphite flake sizes to technology-grade graphite (high-purity, battery-grade graphite is 98 to 99.9% total carbon), destined to meet rising global demand from both industrial and technology end users. Higher concentrate grades translates into reduced levels of impurities that have to be removed in the thermal or hydrometallurgical purification process.
According to today’s release, “The fact that the medium and large graphite flakes could be upgraded to average grades ranging between 98% Ct and 98.3% Ct by flotation only suggest that the impurities are attached to the surface of the graphite flakes and, therefore, the concentrate has the potential to be purified to levels required by battery grade graphite manufacturers. The objective of the pilot plant testing was to produce the highest-quality large flake graphite concentrate.”
According to Focus President and CEO Gary Economo: “The pilot plant test results confirm once more the overall quality of our flake graphite resource at Lac Knife; a level of excellence that helps to further de-risk the project. More importantly, the results indicate that all of Lac Knife’s future production holds the potential for purification to premium-priced technology-grade graphite. Lac Knife provides the foundation for our mine-to-market to value-added technology business strategy. We anticipate no impediments to the successful execution of our mining and related corporate objectives.”
Graphite is a strategically important mineral required for green initiatives and for European and U.S. national and industrial security. Deemed “critical” by the U.S., the European Union and other countries, China presently controls the global market with over 70% of worldwide graphite production. The United States does not produce graphite, so security of supply is crucial.
The discovery of graphene from graphite will definitively change the way we work, live and play in the future. At one atom thick, graphene is the strongest material known to science. It conducts electricity better than copper, is transparent, can be shaped to adapt to any form, and can be modified to suit different industrial end uses. As mentioned in an article last week on InvestorIntel, Focus Graphite is partnered with Grafoid Inc., a privately held graphene research, development and investment company. Grafoid invests in, manages and co-develops (with partners like Hydro-Québec) application solutions for economically scalable graphene. Regarded as the “new silicon”, graphene provides seemingly limitless commercial opportunities through Focus’ investment in Grafoid. Focus supplies the high-grade graphite Grafoid utilizes in its research and development.
Future demand for graphite will be driven by green technologies and initiatives in the graphene age, namely with lithium batteries and portable energy, which is anticipated to dramatically increase the need for additional graphite supply. To meet future anticipated demand, an estimated 25 new mines would be required by 2020. Focus’ Lac Knife Graphite Project is anticipated to go into production in 2014.