High-tech graphite industry continues to expand in South Australia.

The South Australian resource industry will receive a significant boost with $800,000 allocated to the new Graphene Research Centre.

Valence Industries have pledged the funds over three and a half years, and is also advancing plans towards the development of a high-purity graphite facility, anticipated to produce up to 30,000 tonnes of high purity graphite each year.

The facility will enable Valence Industries to add value to Graphite by processing it into high purity graphite, the prices for which range from US$5000 to more than US$10,000 per tonne.

Valence Industries CEO Christopher Darby said the facility will enable them to pursue other high value markets, such as expanded graphite, intercalated graphite and battery-grade graphite.

On the Graphene Research Centre, Darby indicated that the program of research is the result of pioneering research by Professor Dusan Losic and his team in the Engineering Department at University of Adelaide.

“This is an exciting time for the University of Adelaide and for our team,” Losic said.

“This strong commitment by Valence Industries to the development of leading graphene research will attract the best minds to South Australia for the creation of new graphene technologies.”

As part of the research and development process using Uley Mine graphite, Valence has suggested they will have commercial quantities of graphene available this year.

Graphene was first isolated in 2004, and is a one-atom thick layer of graphite, is the basic structural element of graphite, charcoal, and carbon nanotubes and spherical fullerenes.

The high-tech, two-dimensional substance has a range of potential applications, including lightweight, thin, flexible, yet durable display screens, electric circuits, and solar cells, as well as various medical, chemical and industrial processes.

Graphite became a prospect of notable interest in South Australia early last year, with a spate of new graphite resource discoveries on the Eyre Peninsula.

The Uley mine is the only graphite mine in Australia, which was reopened by Valence Industries earlier this year.

The resource is relatively uncommon and produced in only a few countries, including Brazil, Canada, India, China, and The Glorious Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

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