Graphite & Graphene Week-in-Review: Mason Graphite (+31.43%), Focus Graphite (+13.76%) & Berkwood Resources (+33.33%)
Graphite & Graphene Week-in-Review (for the week ending December 6, 2013): I’m pleased to report that the sector was up overall last week, with the InvestorIntel Graphite & Graphene members’ average gaining +3.79%. Graphite is emerging as a strategic industrial mineral in short supply — similar to rare earth elements — with China being the world’s dominant supplier (China produces an estimated 80% of the world’s graphite, however, it only exports 40% of production due to its own internal domestic consumption). Years of underinvestment in new supply outside of China, coupled with growing demand are why graphite, aside from being labeled a critical material by the US and the EU, is considered to be one of the more exciting investing opportunities. The global graphite market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.52% (CAGR) to 2016, primarily due to the increasing use of graphite in Lithium-ion batteries. The global graphite market is experiencing a limited availability of material and the days of cheap, abundant supply from China are apparently over.
The week’s top performer was Mason Graphite Inc. (TSXV: LLG | OTCQX: MGPHF), which saw shares jump +31.43% and +29.73% on the American and Canadian exchanges respectively. On December 5th, Mason announced arguably its most significant news to date with the release of 658% increase in measured and indicated mineral resources to 50 million tonnes, including 6.7 million tonnes grading at 32.4% graphitic carbon (Cg). Under the leadership of graphite veteran President and CEO Benoît Gascon, Mason is rapidly advancing and de-risking its flagship 100%-owned Lac Guéret flake graphite project in northeastern Québec. That same day, InvestorIntel published: ‘Massive’ increase in Mason’s highest-grade flake graphite resource estimate expected to improve project economics. Needless to say, last week’s announcement was very exciting for those who pay close attention to the critical graphite sector. Commenting during a Mason Graphite conference call last Thursday, Mr. Gascon commented: “The 50-million tonne (measured and indicated) overall average grade of 15.6%, including 6.7 million tonnes grading at 32.4%, are very interesting results. All the work completed and reviewing the interpretation, gives us a significant increase in the mineral resource estimate, but also given the size and the amount of information, we expect that we will be in a position to further to improve the economics of the project itself. The conclusions of the PEA are still relevant and valid for the updated model of the new mineral resource.” Lac Guéret’s initial resource (measured and indicated) is based on a 22-year mine life of 7.6 million tonnes, grading 27.40% carbon as graphite (low stripping ratio of 0.76:1 and projected operating costs of $390 per tonne). The massive increase in Mason’s resource estimate is expected to lead to a potentially more optimized pit design and improved project economics in the next phase of technical studies. Mason will not release a revised Preliminary Economic Assessment, but rather focus directly on advancing its Feasibility Study, which the company expects to be completed in 2014.
One of the most promising and advanced-stage graphite exploration companies in the industry, Focus Graphite Inc. (TSXV: FMS | OTCQX: FCSMF) ended the week up +13.76% on the American exchange. On December 4th, Focus announced exceptionally positive results from its summer 2013 infill drilling program on its 100%-owned Lac Knife high-grade, large-flake graphite project (located in the Grenville Geological Province of northeastern Québec). The successful drill campaign achieved grades of up to 30.94% carbon as graphite. The positive results will be used to upgrade Focus’ current Inferred and Indicated mineral resource to the Measured and Indicated mineral resource categories, which will be utilized in order to update the already economically robust Lac Knife resource estimate. Focus Graphite President and COO Don Baxter stated: “All infill drilling is now complete at Lac Knife. The results improve our current understanding of the limits and geometry of the resource and enable the interpretation of the geological model. Work on an upgrade of our mineral resource estimate to the Measured and Indicated categories is now underway. It will be used in the mineral reserve calculations and detailed mine design that form part of the Feasibility Study. As the infill drilling areas overlap the areas that the representative sample was taken for the recent Pilot Plant, this indicates that the flake concentrate produced within the infill area should be of the same high quality that was produced by the Pilot Plant.” Focus’ Pilot Plant demonstrated that the Lac Knife’s graphite yields a potentially economic distribution of large, medium and fine sized graphite flake at an average grade of 96.6% Ct (total carbon). All flake above 200 mesh is showing 98% Ct. Last month, Focus announced the release its stellar updated Preliminary Economic Assessment, which InvestorIntel summarized in: Focus Graphite – it’s all about the numbers. Focus’ Feasibility Study is expected to be completed in the summer of 2014.
Berkwood Resources Ltd. (TSXV: BKR) gained +33.33% for the week on no new announcements. Led by President and CEO, Brian Buchanan, Berkwood is currently developing its three properties in Canada, most notably the Lac Guéret East Graphite Property in northeastern Québec (acquired in the first half of 2012, this property is adjacent to the eastern boundary of Mason Graphite’s Lac Guéret property). Last month Berkwood released a new Corporate Presentation and Fact Sheet.
On December 2nd, Zenyatta Ventures Ltd. (TSXV: ZEN | OTCQX: ZENYF) announced the release of its long awaited (and highly anticipated) maiden NI 43-101-compliant resource estimate for its Albany Graphite Project (a unique hydrothermal volcanic graphite deposit) in northeastern Ontario. Indicated Mineral Resources delineated total 25.1 million tonnes, at an average grade of 3.89% graphitic carbon (Cg), containing 977,000 tonnes of Cg. In addition, Inferred Mineral Resources delineated to date are estimated to total 20.1 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.20% Cg, containing 441,000 tonnes of Cg. Zenyatta President and CEO Auburey Eveleigh commented: “It’s significant to note that the graphite mineralization extends below the preliminary pit shell and is also open at depth but not included in these Mineral Resource estimates. Zenyatta will continue with market studies and now engage an independent consultant to complete a Preliminary Economic Assessment by the second quarter of 2014.”
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Shares in Nouveau Monde Mining Enterprises Inc. (TSXV: NOU) were up +5.0% last week on the December 5th announcement that NOU completed its 2013 Fall Drilling Program on two areas of its Matawinie Graphite Property – and that Nouveau Monde intends to complete a non-brokered offering of $2 million in common shares.
On December 6th, Triton Minerals Limited (ASX: TON) announced that it has successfully raised AUD$1.6 million to advance its Balama North Project. Early last week, InvestorIntel published: “This may potentially be one of the best closology plays in recent memory” — Triton Minerals Advancing Key Mozambique Graphite Projects, which provides an interesting overview of this promising Australian-based graphite company.
Graphene Supercapacitor update: On December 4th, Lomiko Metals Inc. (TSXV: LMR) announced (in conjunction with strategic alliance partner, Graphene Laboratories Inc., and Stony Brook University), it had produced a prototype supercapacitor. The prototype of the supercapacitor was made using graphene composite material prepared using a proprietary technology developed at Graphene Labs. The measured specific capacitance of the prototype was approximately 500 Farad per gram of the material. This value is comparable with the best values reported in the literature for a supercapacitor of this type.
In case you missed it, be sure to read InvestorIntel Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Tracy Weslosky’s two-part special on the graphite and graphene summit – NYC industry event advances theme “think graphite today; think graphene tomorrow” and Graphite producers at NYC summit agree that demand for natural graphite is expected to increase.
Here are your numbers for the week: