Graphene breakthrough: Analysts laud one-step process
Dual liberation of graphene and graphite through a one-step process directly from raw ore: that is some claim, and one being taken seriously by analysts.
In fact, two reports have just come out from Australian analysts on Talga Resources (ASX:TLG) that single out this company has being in a category of its own. For Canaccord Genuity analyst Tim McCormack the headline news is that “a transformational year lies ahead”. Warwick Grigor at Far East Capital (who has recently become a substantial shareholder in Talga) is predicting “extraordinary profits” ahead.
The company had begun as Talga Gold, then moved to iron ore before hitting on graphite. Let McCormack tell the story from there: “TLG’s focus swung to graphite in early 2012 when it acquired a suite of assets in Sweden from a subsidiary of Teck Cominco … TLG originally focused on a conventional graphite development strategy; however, in February 2014, work carried out by the University of Adelaide (in South Australia) demonstrated that graphene could be directlt liberated from the ore of TLG’s Vitangi graphite project.”
And the findings? The company’s laboratory tests has demonstrated that graphene can be directly liberated from natural microcrystalline graphite ore. This requires no crushing, grinding, or other processes that add costs.
The process details have not been revealed, but Canaccord believes it to be a wet physiochemical process partly derived from conventional mineral processing techniques. But it is also the ore that makes this project different: the graphite from the Vittangi ore is unique and makes possible the extraction of graphene. Vittangi is one of the five projects owned by Talga in northern Sweden (the company yesterday released encouraging graphite drilling results from one of its other projects).
Talga is about to begin within about four months construction in Germany of its demonstration plant. Says the report: “The demonstration plant will be the first in the world to commercially demonstrate true direct ore-to-graphene process technology.”
In its report, Far East Capital makes the point that the significance of Talga is not so much being a mining company as a ”facilitator in the commercialization of graphene”. Grigor’s report argues that reliable and large-volume graphene has been a limiting factor in the development of graphene applications. Talga is, in his view, the only company to emerge so far that can offer production capacity measured in thousands of tonnes, and holds the key to scaleability in both production and applications.
As he explains it, the Vittangi orebody is unlike any other graphite deposit. It was formed through lower intensity metamorphism which has left the deposit with unique crystallinity, but very regular structure and consistency. It is predictable over a strike length of more than 30km, offering mine life potential of more than 100 years.
The project is located just 3km from a sealed highway and 20km from a railway that offers direct links to potential European customers.
Grigor also notes that the location of the demonstration plant in Germany is significant: Germany has already committed €1 billion to what is called its Graphene Flagship Program. Talga now has links with Jena University, Dresden University and the Planck Institute of Polymer Research.
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