Start of excavation of overburden and first ore mined for the upcoming 9,000 tpa Vatomina processing plant
Tirupati Graphite plc, the fully integrated, revenue generative, specialist graphite producer and graphene developer with operations in Madagascar and India, is pleased to announce the opening of its second mine in Madagascar at the Vatomina Project, where it remains on track to start commissioning the first 9,000 tpa processing plant in Q2 2021.
· Start of excavation of overburden and first ore mined for the upcoming 9,000 tpa Vatomina processing plant that remains on track to start commissioning in Q2 2021.
· Completed building the circa 12km new interconnecting road that runs between Vatomina and Sahamamy, which will save circa 5% in current OPEX towards logistics costs.
· Initiated preparations to commence the accelerated construction of Sahamamy’s next plant, which has a planned capacity of 18,000 tpa.
Shishir Poddar, CEO of Tirupati Graphite, said, “The opening of the mine marks the beginning of commercial operations at the greenfield Vatomina project, taking us one step further towards our goal of increasing capacity in Madagascar to 30,000 tpa by Q1 2022 and 84,000 tpa by 2024. Furthermore, we are equally delighted that our new road between our two projects, Vatomina and Sahamamy, is now complete, providing them direct access to the National Highway and thereby helping us reduce our OPEX.
“As demonstrated by the huge support we received for our oversubscribed £10 million placing last week, investors are increasingly cognisant of graphite’s role in the green economy and energy transition. Given its unique properties that enable a multitude of green applications including its use in Li-ion batteries and flame retardants, the high-tech graphite industry continues to experience growing demand and tightening supply. We therefore believe a prolonged supply shortage is likely; the opening of our new Vatomina mine will go some way to plugging the supply gap with our high-quality natural flake graphite. We will continue to achieve milestones and update the market further as we focus on fast-tracking our developments across our three businesses.”
To support increasing demand for its products, Tirupati continues to make excellent progress advancing its speciality graphite and graphene processing businesses in India as well as its two primary mining and processing projects in Madagascar, Vatomina and Sahamamy, where it aims to increase production capacity to a globally significant 84,000 tpa by 2024 in several modules.
Over the next 4-6 weeks now the Vatomina mine has opened, the Company will strip the overburden and mine ore to commence stockpiling of feed stock for the upcoming 9,000 tpa processing plant that remains on track to be commissioned in Q2 2021.
Notably, the Company has developed and adopted environmentally friendly methods for mining and processing in Madagascar including energy efficiency, waste reduction and reuse strategies.
Vatomina currently has a defined Mineral Resource Estimate under JORC (2012) of contained graphite of 852,000 tons, resulting in a mine life of circa 14 years based on the originally planned 63,000 tpa production capacity. Given only a third of the mineralised zones have been explored to date, with the established exploration targets of between 8 to 10 million tonnes within the explored areas, and the second stage exploration programme having commenced in February 2021, the Company is looking to update the Mineral Resource Estimates; SRK Consulting has been engaged in this regard.
Additionally, the Company is delighted to announce that it has completed building the circa 12km interconnecting road that runs between Vatomina and Sahamamy, linking both projects and connecting Sahamamy directly to the National Highway RN2. This is a key operational milestone as it will lead to savings of around 5% in current OPEX by lowering logistics costs and facilitating ease of movement of the ground management team across both projects creating operating efficiencies.
Furthermore, the Company has initiated preparations to commence the accelerated construction of Sahamamy’s next plant, which has a planned capacity of 18,000 tpa, for which it raised additional capital last week (see RNS dated 16 April 2021). This is intended to bring total capacity across both Madagascan projects to 30,000 tpa by Q1 2022 and a globally significant 84,000 tpa by 2024.
Sahamamy, which is producing and shipping graphite globally with a product basket of >85% jumbo and large flakes with up to 96% purity, reached 97% of its current 3,000 tpa capacity in Q1 2021 (see RNS dated 9 April 2021).
Source: Company Press Release