Blackearth JV set to commence construction of India plant

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Australian graphite mine developer Blackearth and Indian graphite producer Metachem have acquired a 5-acre site in Pune to set up a downstream graphite processing plant under their joint venture.

The JV, known as Panthera Graphite Technologies, will develop a plant that can produce 2,000 – 2,500 tonnes per annum (tpa) of expandable graphite in the initial stages (first three years). It will then expand production capacity to 4,000 – 5,000 tpa from the fourth year.

The JV will start site development in September 2022, with completion planned in early 2023. It will undertake trial processing immediately after that. Expandable graphite shipment from the facility will start in the second quarter of 2023.

The JV has secured a binding offtake agreement to supply all of its initial production to global graphite downstream processing leader, Grafitbergbau.

The cost of the plant development, including land, building, and all CAPEX, is scheduled to be $3 million (stage 1), with gross revenue projected to be $7 million in the first full year of production, growing to $18-$20.5 million per year following plant expansion, stated Blackearth.

BlackEarth has already completed a feasibility study to assess the robust commercial terms and all other factors relevant to the JV, and a final investment decision has been approved by the Black Earth Board.

Expandable graphite is one of the fastest growing markets along with Li-ion batteries. Development of expandable graphite involves treating flake graphite and heating it to cause the flakes to split apart, expand and increase hundreds of times in volume. This material is pressed into sheets to create a foil which can be cut into shapes and used in many applications including flow batteries and fuel cells.

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