Mineral Resources, owners of the Mt Marion lithium project near Kalgoorlie, has made a deal with Perth-based company Hazer Group to create a facility for large-scale, high-grade synthetic graphite production.
Initially, the agreement will focus on the production of a preliminary test plant capable of production of 1 tonne per annum, to be commissioned next year, before focusing on a larger facility capable of producing anywhere between 1000 and 10000 times that amount, subject to public demand.
Hazer’s clean fuel graphite was originally invented as the result of an energy project at the University of Western Australia, and is synthesised using a mixture of natural gas and unprocessed iron ore.
There is expected to be a surge in interest in synthetic graphite in coming years as electric vehicle (EV) production ramps up, as it is an important component in the anodes used in the vehicles’ lithium-ion batteries.
The deal with Hazer, along with MinRes’s existing lithium mining interests, suggests it is making preparations for this predicted technological disruption, which, given time for necessary infrastructure development and worldwide environmental targets, has the potential to represent the biggest such consumer shift since the invention of the smartphone.