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Graphite Creek PFS drilling now underway

 

Last updated 9/26/2019 at 11:53am

Graphite One Inc.

Core from drilling through the thick lenses of high-quality graphite at the Graphite Creek property in western Alaska.

Graphite One Inc. Sept. 23 announced the start of a fall drill program at its Graphite Creek property located near Nome, Alaska.

The roughly 800 meters of planned drilling will provide geotechnical information for an open-pit mine design and determine ground conditions in proposed infrastructure sites in preparation for the completion of a prefeasibility study for developing a mine at Graphite Creek, slated for the second quarter of next year.

"Our 2019 drilling program is expected to provide technical information we need for the PFS and will add to our understanding of the Graphite Creek deposit,' said Graphite One President and CEO Anthony Huston.

According to a resource calculated in March, the Graphite Creek property hosts 10.95 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 7.8 percent (850,534 metric tons) graphite; plus 91.89 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 8 percent (7.34 million metric tons) graphite.

This represents an 8 percent increase in grade and 14 percent increase in total graphite in measured and indicated resources; and a 14 percent increase in grade and 48 percent increase in inferred resources, when compared to the resource calculation used to complete a preliminary economic assessment for the project in 2017.

This PEA provided a first look at plans to develop an open-pit mine and 2,800-metric-ton processing facility at Graphite Creek. At full capacity, which the PEA slates for the sixth year of production, this operation would be churning out roughly 60,000 metric tons of 95 percent graphite concentrate per year.

The preliminary assessment considers shipping the concentrates produced at Graphite Creek to an advanced material processing facility to be refined into 41,850 metric tons of coated spherical graphite and 13,500 metric tons of purified graphite powders annually.

The coated spherical graphite is of particular interest due to its use as the anode material in the lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles, computers, electronics, cordless tools and a wide range of other electronics.

While lithium nabs the top billing in the batteries powering these rechargeable devices, graphite is the single largest ingredient in these cells.

According to the World Bank, global graphite demand for clean energy applications alone – primarily electric vehicle batteries and energy storage systems – is expected to rise by 383 percent between now and 2050.

Given the expected skyrocketing demand for graphite and that none of this important battery ingredient is mined in the United States, graphite is among the 35 minerals the U.S. Geological Survey has listed as critical to the United States.

"With the growing demand for graphite in electric vehicle lithium ion batteries and other energy storage applications – and the inclusion of graphite on the U.S. critical mineral list – we see the Graphite One deposit as a potentially significant new source of advanced graphite for decades to come," said Huston.

In August, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, met with Graphite One representatives at the company's facility in Nome, where she received an update on the progress at Graphite Creek.

Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, held a Sept. 17 hearing to examine the sourcing and use of minerals needed for clean energy technologies.

"The United States is capable of being a leader in the development of the minerals needed for clean energy technologies. We have incredible high-grade deposits in states like Alaska, but we have also ceded production, manufacturing, and recycling to our competitors," Murkowski said.

During the hearing, Alaska's senior senator cited Graphite Creek as "a very, very exciting" opportunity to develop a battery metal mine at Graphite Creek.

To understand the economic viability and engineering parameters of this development, Graphite One is gathering the final bits of information need to complete the PFS.

Graphite One Inc.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Anthony Huston at Graphite One's warehouse in Nome, Alaska.

In addition to collecting geotechnical data, graphitic carbon assay data collected during the fall drilling will be included in an updated resource estimate for the PFS.

"The 2019 drilling program will provide important geotechnical information required by our engineering team to evaluate alternatives for various aspects of the Graphite Creek project and advance mine design concepts for the PFS" said Stan Foo, Chief Operating Officer of Graphite One (Alaska) Inc., a U.S.-based subsidiary.

Graphite One also continues to collect environmental baseline data and carry out community outreach programs this year.

"We look forward to unlocking the value of this unique, large flake graphite deposit," Foo added.

–SHANE LASLEY

 

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