NGX, a graphite explorer and developer focused on projects in Malawi, has secured a Retention Licence (RL) for the Malingunde Natural Graphite Project (Malingunde project) in Malawi.

The Malingunde project is a premium quality, low-cost flake graphite project with strong economic and environmental attributes, according to a Pre-feasibility Study (PFS) completed in 2018.

The project is said to provide several advantages, primarily due to the deposit having a large weathered saprolite component, which results in lower energy inputs for mining and processing.

NGX intends to immediately review the PFS to assess whether the project can be optimised by supplying graphite concentrates to the feedstock market for lithium-ion battery anodes.

The project review may lead to changes in scale, development timing and processing to supply graphite concentrates more appropriate to that market.

NGX, in its statement, said: “Demand for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage has grown very substantially since the original PFS and high-quality natural graphite feedstock is forecast to be in strong demand as this sector continues to grow strongly.

“In parallel with the ongoing PFS and downstream processing work, NGX will commence a comprehensive program of community and stakeholder engagement, continuing the social and environmental consent process.

“In conjunction with the Ministry of Mining, NGX determined that an RL was the most appropriate and timely form of tenure to allow the Company to advance the Malingunde Project.”

The Malingunde project is located around 20km southwest of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, with Nacala on the east coast of Mozambique as the nearest port.

It represents a high-quality potential future mining operation producing premium quality natural graphite products at low operating and low-capital costs and excellent margins, as per the PFS.

The project entails compelling economic estimates, attributed to the deposit’s soft saprolite material, high grade at 9.5% Total Graphitic Content (TGC) and available infrastructure.

Malingunde includes planned open-cut mining and a beneficiation processing plant operation, treating run-of-mine ore to produce 52,000tpa of graphite concentrate at 97% purity.

The graphite concentrate will be trucked to the railhead at Kanengo, from where it will be packed into shipping containers for delivery to the port of Nacala for export.

Furthermore, Malawi Electrical Supply Corporation (ESCOM) plans to build a 132/11kV substation near Bunda, 10km from Malingunde, which will be linked to the national grid.