Syrah to produce graphite anode material in the USA

MELBOURNE, VIC – Syrah Resources has reported that it completed a bankable feasibility study to add 10ktpy of anode material capacity to its battery anode material plant in Vidalia, Louisiana, USA.

Syrah is aiming to be the first major integrated non-Chinese producer of natural graphite Active Anode Material (AAM) that is battery ready for electric vehicles. 

It aims to be the first vertically integrated producer of natural graphite products for the lithium-ion battery industry serving both US and European markets. The work already started on front-end engineering and design for the anode material capacity, which it expects to complete in the first quarter of 2021, before beginning detailed design work.

Syrah’s project site in Vidalia has all the key requirements for large scale AAM production:

  • Access to key utilities (Water/Gas/Power)
  • Water and air discharge compliance obtained
  • Options to expand facility size
  • Direct barge/port access to Mississippi river
  • Supportive government relations
  • Access to key consumables (HF, HCL, Caustic)
  • Capable workforce

Syrah plans to be vertically integrated and undertakes following value added steps from mine in Balama to produce AAM:

  1. Natural graphite concentrate (-100 mesh fines material) is transported from Balama Graphite Operation to Vidalia.
  2. Natural graphite is then shaped into a spherical shape and purified to produce an anode precursor material.
  3. Precursor material is then coated and heat treated to produce a finished AAM.

Development at Vidalia to date has been focused on establishing production lines that are of sufficient scale to demonstrate Syrah’s capability to supply ex-Asia markets with AAM that:

  • Has equivalent or superior physical and electrochemical properties to currently available material
  • Is cost competitive with incumbent supply (currently 100% based in Asia)
  • Provides an environmentally superior alternative to existing AAM supply
  • Is capable of supplying growing US and European markets

Syrah Resources produces natural flake graphite in Mozambique and has been developing spherical graphite intermediate products in the USA, with its first battery-grade purified product achieved in July 2020.

A move to downstream production of anode material would give it access to a higher value market and help it take advantage of the market’s desire for a non-Chinese and potentially more sustainable supply chain.

The BAM plant currently has the potential to produce up to 5ktpy of unpurified spherical graphite and 0.2ktpy of purified spherical graphite; spherical graphite being an intermediate product based on raw material natural flake graphite feedstock that is the precursor to anode material manufacture.

Syrah Resources plans to install a furnace in Q1 2021 to produce 0.2ktpy of what is calls ‘advanced anode material’ (AAM) from spherical graphite. It plans to increase AAM capacity to 10ktpy, ramping up to 40ktpy in the long term.

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