Washington chosen for Graphite One plant
Graphite materials facility to leverage low-cost hydropower North of 60 Mining News – March 18, 2022
Last updated 3/24/2022 at 2:57pm
Graphite One Inc. March 14 announced that it has selected Washington as the location for the processing plant that will upgrade concentrates mined at its Graphite Creek project in Alaska to the spherical coated graphite needed for lithium-ion batteries and other advanced graphitic materials.
According to a 2019 calculation, the Graphite Creek mine project about 35 miles north of the Alaska gold mining town of Nome hosts 10.95 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 7.8% (850,534 metric tons) graphitic carbon, plus 91.89 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 8% (7.34 million metric tons) graphitic carbon.
In 2017, Graphite One published a preliminary economic assessment that outlines plans for a mine at this deposit that would produce roughly 60,000 metric tons of 95% graphite concentrate per year and a processing facility to refine these annual concentrates into 41,850 metric tons of the coated spherical graphite used as an anode material in lithium-ion batteries, plus 13,500 metric tons of purified graphite powders annually.
The company has now confirmed that the processing facility will be built in Washington, a state with plentiful, low-cost hydroelectricity.
"This is a major step towards our 100% U.S.-based advanced graphite supply chain," said Graphite One President and CEO Anthony Huston.
According to recent data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, the global leader for lithium battery materials analysis, expects the demand for graphite to grow by 500% over the next decade. This explosive growth is being driven by the rapid transition to electric vehicles, which require an average of roughly 118 pounds of graphite each.
This rapidly increasing need for the graphite that serves as the anode material in lithium-ion batteries powering EVs and storing intermittent renewable energy has garnered the attention of the White House.
"If I was going to follow through on my commitment to say we were going to make it in America and build it America ... we needed a supply chain that was reliable ... including in critical materials like lithium, graphite, rare earth materials, which are badly needed for so many American products," President Joe Biden said in a February roundtable discussion on critical minerals.
With a graphite mine in Alaska and an advanced processing facility in Washington, Graphite One would provide a domestic supply of one of the major materials critical to America's burgeoning EV sector.
Washington hydroelectricity, which averaged 5.81 cents per kilowatt-hour for industrial customers during 2021, is expected to provide Graphite One a significant advantage on the cost and carbon footprint of upgrading its graphite concentrates to advanced graphite anode material.
"Washington State offers the opportunity for Graphite One to use a green energy source – Washington state hydro – to manufacture a green energy material," Huston said. "That's core to our commitment at Graphite One to make our project a model of ESG in action."
Graphite One is in discussions with Washington public authorities to determine the exact locale of the advanced materials facility that is expected to support 130 high-wage jobs.
The company is also advancing a prefeasibility study that will provide an updated and more detailed look at the economic and engineering parameters of its planned Alaska mine and Washington advanced graphite materials plant.