EDITOR: | September 12th, 2014 | 5 Comments

Elcora’s Dr. Ian Flint on Tesla’s challenge to find graphite

| September 12, 2014 | 5 Comments

Elcora-Resources-Dr-FlintSeptember 12, 2014 — In a special InvestorIntel interview, Tracy Weslosky, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher for InvestorIntel interviews Dr. Ian Flint, VP of processing and Refining at Elcora Resources (TSXV: ERA), about some of the misconceptions that investors have about graphite and Tesla’s challenge to find enough graphite.

Tracy Weslosky: Today I have the privilege of speaking to one of the most world-renowned experts on graphite, Dr. Ian Flint. How are you today?

DR. IAN FLINT: I’m very good. Thank you very much.

TW: Dr. Flint, there are is so many misconceptions out there on graphite right now I don’t even know where to begin. How about we start with the famous flake size? Does flake size matter?

DR. IAN FLINT: Yes. There’s the short answer. The long answer is that there is a trough in the middle and on both ends worth more money, which means as you go from a middle point of about 100 microns and go larger you value increases. As you go smaller, your value increases so yes it matters.

TW: Alright. Then, of course, we have different types of graphite so for instance, Sri Lankan graphite or the unusually fine that Zenyatta has. Can you speak to this type of graphite; these different types?

DR. IAN FLINT: There’s no difference between them. They’re both vein type. They’re both geothermal. The difference is in basically the speed at which they were formed, which means Zenyatta has a finer crystal size then Sri Lankan does. The Zenyatta was forming basically in a big pit whereas Sri Lanka is a lot of very fine veins.

TW: We have a couple of companies that have spoken to us about how their graphite is better because it comes out of softer soil and that apparently the harder the rock that you pull the graphite out you actually destroy some of the graphite in the extraction process. Is this true?

DR. IAN FLINT: Absolutely.

TW: It is true?


TW: Okay. It’s beneficial then if it’s, I don’t know, closer to the top of the surface and — Talk to me a little bit about this.

DR. IAN FLINT: Now what you’re concerned about is preserving the crystal morphology or what the crystal looks like. The more crushing and grinding and processing you have to do the more you are going to affect that. If you have a graphite mine that you’re basically just taking out the soil and the graphite is in the soil, you don’t need to do any crushing and grinding and you preserve the crystal that much better. The opposite end of the scale is when you’re mining just out of sinuous where you have silica interground into the graphite. You have the very easy to the very hard.

TW: For instance, we have a couple of companies, of course, like Syrah Resources, which have their primary — where they have their graphite in Africa. Can you talk to us about African graphite for instance? You’ve traveled the world.

DR. IAN FLINT: The Mozambique Belt is a very old series of rocks that when all the continents were together at one time ran from what is nowAntarctic up to western Australia through Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, but also Madagascar, Sri Lanka and southern India. All of those rocks contain graphite. Some of them are quite well weathered and you just pull the graphite out. You’ve got Syrah Resources down there. You’ve got Sovereign. I’ve got a graphite deposit down there with a company called African Graphite, but you’ve also got the Molo Deposit, which is Energizer, and you’ve got all the Sri Lankan ones and there’s a number of ones in India. There’s a couple of more in Tanzania too, but I don’t remember the name of them.

TW: So, what is the number one fallacy you hear about graphite that makes you cringe at graphite industry parties?

DR. IAN FLINT: Mostly when people say that they’re going to get a lot of money for it and they don’t realize that it is so client specific, okay? In other words, in the battery market you’ve got some companies that want 20 micron graphite or 15 micron graphite. You’ve got other companies that want ball graphite. You’ve got other ones that want 20 micron and then you’ve got others that want 300 micron all for batteries. You have to be very, very specific as to what your client needs. Until you do that, quoting you prices is rather meaningless.

TW: So, end-user relationships are very, very important.

DR. IAN FLINT: Absolutely.

TW: Can you tell me — for instance, everyone is talking about Tesla. Is this the number one end-user for graphite or would you like to explain to our audience who the number one user is for graphite?

DR. IAN FLINT: The graphite market is about the same size of the nickel market, but it’s divided into two where you’ve got the amorphous graphite and you’ve got the flake graphite. 70% of the graphite comes out of China. However, most of that is the amorphous graphite or low-quality graphite. That goes into the steel industry; most of it. That is the major use and it will continue to be the major use. What Tesla represents is the battery market, which is the high-end market where you get the most money. That’s why people are targeting it, which makes sense. This makes perfect sense. The quality control in that graphite has to be quite rigid. There’s very little graphite that is produced in the world that actually qualifies for battery grade graphite; maybe 20,000 tons, maybe 30,000 tons out of the one million tons that’s produced a year. Right now that’s basically cornered in China and most of the batteries are made in China. If Tesla can make their Mega factory or Gigafactory or whatever they want to call it in the United States it would be wonderful. I would support it all the way. They’re going to have trouble finding the graphite for it.

To hear the rest of the interview, click here

Disclaimer: Elcora Resources is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel.

Tracy Weslosky


An accomplished entrepreneur Tracy Weslosky is the CEO for InvestorIntel Corp., a company that publishes InvestorIntel.com, a trusted source of online market information for investors ... <Read more about Tracy Weslosky>

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  • Threshold

    looks like another black eye for Fulp wrt his historic and derogatory comments about ZEN.

    September 12, 2014 - 4:52 PM

  • bert.l

    Dr. Flint, a very good educational interview and unbiased.
    I am certainly going to take a good hard look at Elcora Resources if they have a man of your calibre involved in their projects.

    You have explained in this interview in a few simple words, the difference between Flake & Hydrothermal/Geothermal graphite and put to rest all misconceptions.

    One company in particular that you mentioned is Zenyatta Venture. I follow this company very closely and have noted a few key points in the recent unfolding of their journey that leads me to believe that they may have the goods for Tesla; that being said, Tesla may just have a bidding war on their hands – here’s why, the following are all recent:

    1. Sept 2014 Successfully Completes Pilot Plant & Metallurgical Testing to Produce High Purity & Highly Crystalline Graphite Product: Highlights: Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (‘GDMS’) results show less than 0.05% elemental impurities (or >99.95% purity of highly crystalline graphitic carbon (“Cg”));
    2. No deleterious elemental concerns and verifying good crystal structure (hexagonal with real density of 2.25 g/cc);
    3. Test work completed to date has confirmed the Zenyatta graphite to have a very good crystal structure (hexagonal) with a very desirable real density of 2.25 g/cc. We have no elemental purity concerns, including sulphur (67 ppm), boron (0.12 ppm) and equivalent boron content (‘EBC’) of 0.919 ppm. The sulphur and boron are very low with EBC measuring well below the recommended maximum of 5ppm for nuclear applications.
    4. Produced samples of high purity graphite material for market evaluation & testing by more than 20 end users.

    Currently the US Department of Energy is using Albany Graphite in 2 studies at Oak Ridge National Laboratories. (The Zenyatta team are unable to comment on this due to NDA) however, the evidence is in the following research papers where Zenyatta is clearly identified as a supplier:


    Another 10/or more research institutions and testing facilities have received samples and are studying the Albany Graphite

    Aubrey Everleigh stated publicly in a recent Investortel interview that they are in talks with multiple parties.

    Lastly – huge tonnage.

    I hope to see more of your interviews – many thanks.

    September 12, 2014 - 5:29 PM

  • Vernon

    Tesla uses synthetic graphite from Japan and Europe. Its batteries are manufactured at a Panasonic plant in Japan, not China.

    September 13, 2014 - 5:19 PM

  • Dr. Copper

    said it before and say it again, Fulp is useless

    very good interview putting emphazise on the right cue ball and
    knocking out the Syrahian jihadist spruik of one graphite religion rules them
    all and we can concur the world graphite market with one bullet laden
    with multiple contaminents and uranium. ever wondered why some
    feel presurized to announce details raised on online forums ? well
    stay away if they do.

    Archer exploration has the best graphite crumble pie on the planet
    its even the most wholesome tested grades and sofar has the best
    morphed crystalinity. No need to argue, just talk to industry and do your
    home work.

    one advise tracy, stay away from them tradeshows and never cheek kiss
    a supporting stock broker before putting on abit of chanel’s best no.8.

    September 16, 2014 - 6:23 AM

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