Valence Industries has officially opened the historic Uley graphite mine and will start production as soon as it receives all the necessary Australian Government approvals.
The Uley mine, which is located 23km from port Lincoln, is Australia’s only graphite mine and is widely recognised as a globally significant area of flake graphite mineralisation.
Discovered in the early 1880s, the mine had supported industry and war efforts for almost two centuries, producing approximately 14,000 tonnes of graphite each year until market factors forced the mine to close in 1993.
The past year has seen the Uley mine undergo a complete refurbishment programme, including the installation of new equipment to allow Phase I graphite production from the stockpiles left behind in 1993, before it moves into processing from the new Uley Pit 2.
In addition, the company announced the discovery of a new globally unique flake graphite area in Uley, with grades of more than 60%. The discovery of the “Arterial Flake” Graphite, which was found near the surface, is expected to have a positive impact on the value of the graphite products from Valence Industry.
The Uley Graphite Mine currently contains 360,000 tonnes of graphite, which is in addition to the stockpiled graphite that contains approximately 10,900 tonnes of graphite.
“2014 has been a transformative year for Valence. The Company listed on the ASX earlier this year; the refurbishment of Uley is complete and we are on the cusp or restarting production at this historic site, which when it was in full production supplied high quality material to meet the world’s graphite needs,” said Valence Industries’ Chief Executive and Managing Director Christopher Darby.
“Once online, Valence Industries will be able to supply graphite to its international customers, with the Company having already signed multiple memoranda of understanding to supply over 29,000 tonnes of graphite per year over the next two to three years.”
The Uley Graphite mine has been supported by both the Government and the community, with the opening event to be attended by Local Member Peter Treloar and Dion Dorward, Chief Executive of the Regional Development Council, Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula.
The company has already employed approximately 30 people for Phase I and is expected to employ at least 90 more when Phase II comes online.
“Graphite is globally recognised as a critical commodity, with applications in a wide variety of products such as lithium-ion batteries and consumer electronics that are vital to the modern world. Of particular importance for Valence is the robust demand for high purity flak graphite which is a necessary component in new technologies and can command premium prices,” Mr Darby said.
“Recent exploration has proven that our Uley Graphite has a material amount of high quality flake graphite, particularly with the discovery of the Arterial Flake graphite, and the Company is well positioned to exploit this as it prepares to embark on the development of Phase II of Uley.”
The company has also advised that the revised Feasibility Study for expanded Phase II operations in South Australia is scheduled for release by the end of the year.
According to the statement issued on Tuesday, Phase II will comprise of a new open pit, a new graphite processing plant that is estimated to cost approximately A$35 million to construct and will be capable of ramping up to production of more than 50,000 tonnes of graphite each year, when combined with Phase I.