Lithium Energy has engaged CSIRO to determine if its high-grade North West Queensland graphite is suitable for lithium-ion battery anodes, a crucial component in electric vehicles.
Lithium Energy says the high grade and low impurities in the Burke Graphite Project, 125km north of Cloncurry make it attractive for use in lithium-ion batteries and previous test work showed good electrochemical performance.
CSIRO's "kick-start" initiative aimed at small SMEs will now fund test work to see if meets strict specifications demanded by lithium-ion battery makers.
The Burke graphite deposit is one of the highest-grade undeveloped graphite deposits in the world with a JORC resource estimate of 6.3 million tonnes for 16.0 per cent total graphitic carbon (TGC) for roughly 1 million tonnes of contained graphite.
China is the world's largest producer of graphite and issues of quality and environmental control are forcing graphite buyers to look elsewhere.
Lithium Energy said previous test work conducted by Independent Metallurgical Operations confirmed the Burke graphite project contains very high-grade natural graphite capable of producing a concentrate purity of over 95pc TGC using a standard flotation process.
They provided CSIRO with the natural graphite flake to determine its suitability for use in lithium-ion batteries and CSIRO fabricated coin battery cells using Burke graphite into electrodes to determine the influence of flake size on electrode performance.
The test work showed the Burke natural graphite demonstrates good performance in coin cell configuration and shows higher levels of capacity when repeatedly charged and discharged over a ten-hour cycle time, compared with control coin cells.
Lithium has entered into a new four-month research agreement with CSIRO to undertake further work including attempting spheronisation and purification of Burke natural graphite particles and electrochemical testing work.
CSIRO will co-fund 50 per cent of the project cost through "Kick-Start" program, an initiative that provides funding and support for innovative Australian businesses to access CSIRO's research expertise and capabilities to help grow and develop their business.
Natural flake graphite is considered a critical raw material by the US and EU and is used in electric vehicle batteries.
Lithium Energy is talking to Chinese and Japanese lithium-ion battery manufacturers and graphite companies with a view to eventually forming binding commercial off-take and development agreements.
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