High-grade Springdale Graphite Project

THE HIGH-GRADE SPRINGDALE GRAPHITE PROJECT (100%)

The high-grade Springdale Graphite Project is located approximately 30 kilometres east of Hopetoun in south Western Australia. The Project is situated on freehold land, with good access to infrastructure being within 150 kilometres of the port at Esperance via sealed roads. There is grid power and piped gas accessible at the site.

The tenements lie within the deformed southern margin of the Yilgarn Craton and constitute part of the Albany-Fraser Orogen. Comet owns 100% of the two tenement’s (E74/562 and E74/612) that make up Springdale project.

Figure 1 – The High-Grade Springdale Graphite project is located in south Western Australia

Background

Comet completed a first pass aircore drilling program in February 2016, which confirmed that graphite was present (Western Zone).  A detailed aeromagnetic survey was conducted in November 2017 and interpretation of the survey delineated 26 kilometres of stratigraphy deemed to be prospective for graphite mineralisation. Less than 20% of the identified stratigraphy has been drill tested, indicating the potential scale of the Project.

Figure 2 – Map of the High-Grade Springdale Graphite Project, showing graphitic stratigraphy, existing resources and high-grade discoveries outside resources

The Northern zone was identified as a high priority drill target and an RC drilling program completed between December 2017 and February 2018 was successful in identifying high-grade graphite mineralisation in the Northern zone.

In April 2017 metallurgical testwork proved that graphene can be produced from Springdale by electrical exfoliation. It is very rare for a graphite deposit to be able to produce graphene using the exfoliation method on solid, untreated rock and in December 2018 Comet released a maiden Inferred Resource of 15Mt @ 6.0% Total Graphitic Carbon (TGC) including a high-grade component of 2.6mt at 17.5% TGC, incorporating the Northern, Eastern and Western Zones.

The discovery of two new high-grade zones of graphite mineralisation outside the existing resource was announced in May 2019. The results of the drilling program confirmed that electromagnetic (EM) surveys could be used as a targeting tool for shallow, high-grade graphite mineralisation.

EM has proved to be a powerful targeting tool for shallow, high-grade graphite at Springdale and provides the opportunity to reduce exploration costs through more accurate drill targeting.

Results of Metallurgical Testwork read more

Following a diamond drilling program in 2019, Comet engaged a specialist metallurgical team with significant graphite-specific experience team to undertake the analytical and metallurgical testwork for Springdale.

The results achieved both excellent grade and recoveries, demonstrating the potential to produce high value graphite products from the project. Further test work on end uses for the product can now be advanced once a bulk sample of the concentrate is produced. The graphite concentrate produced has a unique and potentially very valuable characteristic in its size distribution, with 2/3 of the product passing the 38 µm screen. Generally, this size fraction of graphite is mainly a by-product of processing of larger flake fractions, which produces smaller size graphite, but this damages the flakes in the process, reducing their performance and value. Deposits that contain high quality ultra-fine graphite are uncommon, and as a result potential very valuable.

Further optimisation testing has continued under management of Independent Metallurgical Operations (IMO) on the flotation regime to further reduce both capital and operating cost requirements whilst increasing concentrate grade by assessing:

  • A reduction in the number of flotation and concentrate grinding stages;
  • Further optimisation in the reagent additions.

Multiple tests have been conducted for the optimisation testing which has indicated:

  • Reagent consumptions can be reduced by 47% with no detrimental effect to overall product grade and recovery;
  • Flotation stages can be reduced by 36%, further reducing capital and operating cost requirements.

Further test work on a 5-10kg sample of float concentrate in Europe is designed to convert the concentrate obtained by flotation into value added saleable products. Three different processes are to be investigated:

  • Purification to carbon content above 99.9%, as these carbon levels pave the way for high tech applications like usage in batteries;
  • Micronizing for products which require well defined small flake graphite particle for their end uses e.g. in lubricants, powder metallurgy applications or in carbon brushes;
  • Spheronisation for usage in Lithium-Ion-Battery Anodes for the rapidly expanding market for electrical vehicles due to the global drive to de-carbonise the transport network

These test work streams are designed to confirm the suitability of Springdale Project graphite as a precursor material for these high value added products.

Summary of Test Work Undertaken

  • Metallurgical testwork reported aimed at achieving high graphite recovery and grade by flotation to achieve a >95% graphite product. The work was undertaken on a composite sample prepared from two intervals, one being 6m (26 – 32m) from PQ diamond hole HD031 and 43.7m (42 – 85.7m) from PQ diamond hole HD024. These intervals represent shallow, high-grade graphite mineralisation from the two main resource areas at the Springdale Project (North and West zones) that Comet believes has the potential for economic extraction via open pit mining methods. The location and mineralised intervals of these holes has been previously reported in ASX releases on the 24/10/2019 (Outstanding Graphite Results from Latest Diamond Drilling) and 25/11/202 (West Zone Hole Confirms High Grade Graphite Continuity).
  • The sample was delivered to metallurgical expert’s Independent Metallurgical Operations (IMO) who oversaw the testwork.
  • IMO received the prepared composite from Comet Resources as 2kg charges stage crushed to 100% passing 3.35mm. Five of the 2kg charges were combined and stage ground prior to flotation utilising a standard Denver flotation cell. Specialist reagent Ekofol-452G was utilized to conduct the flotation testing. Resulting flotation concentrates were sized at industry standard sizes, dried and submitted for total carbon assay.
  • It was decided appropriate to test for total carbon only as it was considered reasonable that the results would closely match the graphite carbon values and provide a lower overall cost.

Springdale Graphite Performs Exceptionally In Battery Anode Material Benchmark Tests read more

On 21 September 2021, the Company announced test work returned the suitability of Springdale’s graphite to undergo micronisation (in hammer mills), spheronisation and purification processes to the high specification levels necessary to produce precursor material for use in the manufacture of lithium-ion battery anodes. Additional test work will be conducted to optimise the results of the already impressive initial test results.

In addition, the Springdale graphite sample was also tested for performance in jet milling. Due to the fine flake size, the material was easy to micronise in a jet mill with good throughput and low energy consumption. The product was assessed as achieving industry standards for jet mill specification. Jet milled product, like lithium-ion battery anode precursor material, can also achieve premium pricing in graphite markets.

The results of the test work confirm Springdale’s graphite material is high-value and suitable for value added processing, a key factor for future project economics. No graphite project will produce 100% lithium-ion battery anode precursor material, so it is therefore necessary to have other high-value saleable graphite products for the balance of the graphite produced to
achieve the highest average revenue mix. The Company considers it exceptional that Springdale’s graphite product has also performed well in jet milled tests, in addition to testing for generation of lithium-ion battery anode precursor materials.

Summary of Test Programs:

  • Analysis of the dried concentrate material prior to testing
  • Jet Milling and Impact Milling value added graphite products
  • Purified Spherical Graphite – Battery Anode Material

Results from micronisation, spheronisation and purification met industry specification for battery anode material with purification up to 99.99% graphite content achieved

The graphite also performed exceptionally in jet milling tests – Jet milled graphite products can also achieve premium prices in graphite markets

Comet and International Graphite To Create a Vertically Intergrated Graphite Business in Western Australia read more

On 27 October 2021, Comet Resources announced that it had reached an agreement with International Graphite Ltd to form a vertically integrated high-technology graphite business located in Western Australia to focus on the production of micronised, battery anode material and other products for lithium-ion batteries.

Comet’s participation in International Graphite’s vertically integrated graphite business, located in the tier one minerals jurisdiction of Western Australia, will provide the opportunity to not only unlock the value of Springdale as a mine, but to also participate in the high-technology downstream business of manufacturing high value micronised and Lithium-Ion battery anode material products.

International Graphite’s business plan has already received endorsement from the WA Government by way of a $2M grant, and we believe the addition of Comet’s Springdale Graphite Project will also be very well received. International Graphite’s leadership team brings decades of experience in metallurgy and project development.

We are confident in their ability to capture opportunities in the rapidly growing high-technology downstream graphite products business.

MATTHEW O’KANE, Managing Director

Flake Size

Select drill chips have been analysed to determine flake size. Large to jumbo flakes of graphite have the highest market value and they are common in the majority of samples submitted from the Springdale Graphite Project. Some flakes were up to 500 µm in size.

Figure 3 – Thin and polished section shots showing graphite flakes
Figure 4- Thin and polished section shots showing graphite flakes

Graphene by exfoliation

In April 2017 Comet’s metallurgical consultants successfully recovered graphene through exfoliation of diamond core. Research and testwork on graphene production and other graphite products including battery graphite is ongoing.

Figure 5 – Exfoliation of core from the Springdale Graphite Project.