New/old graphite mine to EIA
Next Graphite Incorporated has just appointed a Canadian company called Element 12 to help oversee its environmental impact assessment application. Headed by Canadian-based Namibian Arnold Brandt, the Element 12 team is expected to arrive in the country next week and will act in an advisory capacity as Next Graphite forges ahead with plans to re-open Namibia’s only graphite mine.
These developments werre confirmed to the Economist by Mulife Siyambango, Next Graphite’s newly appointed country manager for Namibia.
The application will allow Next Graphite to initiate exploration work on the site that will allow for further probing of the resource. Known as the Aukam resource, it is situated in the south on farm Aukam 104, approximately 30 kilometres south off the B4 and a further 250 kilometres from the Port of Lüderitz.
Said Siyambango: “Not much work has been done because we can not at this stage perform any exploration. We [Next Graphite] need to deal with the issues of the environmental impact assessment before we can conduct any feasibility studies,” upon enquiry with regards to the feasibility of the mining project.
He added, “We are currently busy with an environmental impact study and an environmental management plan.”
According to Siyambango, a company that will conduct the actual the environmental impact assessment has yet to be identified and added that potential suitors have voiced an interest in getting involved in the project.
Siyambango and his Next Graphite team have placed all their bets on a growing demand for graphite which they anticipate will take off significantly. “The rationale behind this mining project is that we anticipate a strong demand for graphite particularly from China. Mind you there are not many graphite producing mines in the world.”
Next Graphite projects a sharp increase in demand for graphite with demand outstripping supply from 2015 onwards. Longer term expectations are that demand will continue to spike upwards. Total graphite demand according to Next Graphite is estimated at 1,250,000 tonnes from 2015 onwards.
He added, “The demand for off-take graphite at this moment is very strong.”
Should its application be successful, Next Graphite will proceed with plans to commence initial geological studies for the mining re-launch plan, initiate processing and testing of surface graphite samples, conduct a preliminary economic analysis and begin with the processing of 140,000 tonnes of graphite tailings over a two-year period.
Next Graphite has set a production target of 2,000 tonnes. Preliminary results obtained have indicated the presence of a high-grade graphite content which have sparked the need for a pre-economic plan. Three major tailing heaps on site are estimated to hold approximately 180,000 tonnes of graphite bearing rock, the company recently reported upon completion of its first phase of preliminary tests of the Aukam project. The second phase of preliminary tests was launched in May.
“The company has issued shares with a market capitalisation of US$25 million in the United States on the stock market in order to develop the mine,” he added when asked to elaborate on the cost implications of the new mine.
In August 2013, a special purpose vehicle was established in the United States for the Aukam mine transaction by African Graphite Incorporated. A subsequent take-over followed in March 2014. The mine was previously owned by a South African company, Aukam Mine Limited.
The Aukam mine was commissioned in 1940 and is to date the first and only mine to have produced graphite in Namibia. The mine was in production until 1974 when production ceased following a fire incident. In its prime, the mine produced approximately 2674 metric tonnes of graphite in 1966.