Balama Graphite Project is located in Cabo Delgado Province of northern Mozambique. (Credit: Syrah Resources Limited)
Syrah Vidalia active anode material (AAM) Facility in Louisiana, the US. (Credit: Syrah Resources Limited)
Vidalia AAM Facility processes natural graphite from Balama project. (Credit: Syrah Resources Limited)

Balama Project is a natural graphite resource located in Cabo Delgado Province of northern Mozambique.

The project comprises an open pit mine with a mine life of approximately 50 years, and an onsite processing facility.

Twigg Exploration and Mining (Twigg), a subsidiary of Syrah Resources (Syrah), owns the graphite project.

The Feasibility study (FS) for the project was completed in May 2015, with construction of the Balama process plant commencing in July 2016.

It produced first natural graphite in November 2017 and achieved commercial production in January 2019.

Syrah suspended production from Balama due to the market and logistics disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Production recommenced in March 2021.

The project will enable Syrah to supply the battery anode and electric vehicle markets. The company commenced production from the Syrah Vidalia active anode material (AAM) Facility in Louisiana, the US, in February 2024, by processing natural graphite from Balama project.

Balama Project Location

Balama Graphite Project is located on a 110.6 km2 mining concession within the district of Balama in the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique.

The site is approximately 265km west of Pemba, and 515km to the port town of Nacala, Mozambique.

Located near the large regional Chipembe Dam, the project is accessible via a sealed highway.

According to a report published in September 2014, the project comprises two open pits-Balama East and Balama West, located approximately 1km east of the process plant and approximately 2.5km south-west of the processing plant, respectively.

It comprises three deposits- Ativa, Mualia and Mepiche. As of March 2023, the Ativa deposit is in operation.

Balama Project Geology

The geology of the Balama mine area comprises metamorphic rocks of the Xixano Complex.

The graphite mineralisation mostly includes stratiform graphitic schists. The flake size of the graphite is up to 4mm.

Generally, the strike of the mineralised lithologies is north-east. At Balama East, the layering of lithologies towards the east was found to be disrupted by the emplacement of a granite intrusion.

Balama Graphite Reserves

In March 2023, Syrah Resources updated the Balama Graphite Operation Ore Reserve estimate and Balama Mineral Resource estimate.

Balama Ore Reserve is estimated at 110.3Mt at 16.4% total graphitic carbon (TGC) for 18.0Mt contained graphite.

The project’s mineral resource is estimated at 1,035.7Mt at 11.6% TGC for 120.0 Mt contained graphite.

Mining and Processing

Simple, low strip, open pit mining is used to extract the ore. Some softer material found in the oxide zone could be dug without drilling and blasting.

The Balama East and Balama West pits are designed for a maximum depth of less than 50m.

According to the feasibility study 2015, 2 million tonnes per annum of ore will be extracted in a baseline scenario. The extraction is subjected to conventional flotation processing.

Ore will be delivered from the mine onto stockpiles at the processing plant using haul trucks.

The Balama project processing plant is designed with a feed rate of 2Mtpa. It has a nameplate capacity of 380,000 tonnes of concentrate per annum at 95% total graphitic carbon (TGC).

The ore is fed into the crusher bin and the crushed ore passes via a conveyor into a mill feed. The ore then undergoes cleaning, flotation and regrinding.

The produced material is pumped to the concentrate holding tanks ahead of a filter. This final concentrate will be dried and packed for transport.

The final natural graphite products are exported to potential customers through Nacala port.

Key Infrastructure

In April 2022, Syrah took the final investment decision (FID) for the installation of an 11.25MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) system combined with an 8.5MW/MWh battery energy storage system (BESS).

The installation was integrated with the project’s existing diesel power generation plant (comprised of seven 2.2MW generators).

The solar and battery system is estimated to supply approximately 35% of Balama’s site power requirements and up to 100% during peak times.

Water required for project operations will be sourced from Chipembe Dam via a 13km pipeline.

Offtake Agreements

In December 2021, Syrah entered into an offtake agreement with electric carmaker Tesla to supply natural graphite Active Anode Material from AAM production facility in Vidalia.

In August 2023, Graphex Technologies entered into an offtake agreement with Twigg for natural flake graphite from Syrah’s Balama graphite operation.

Syrah entered into a non-binding MoU with lithium-ion battery manufacturer Samsung SDI to evaluate natural graphite active anode material supply from Vidalia AAM facility in August 2023.

In March 2024, Syrah signed a binding offtake agreement with Posco Future for natural graphite fines from Balama Project.

Contractors Involved

Coastal and Environmental Services (CES) prepared a waste management assessment report for the Balama graphite mine.

Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, China Aluminium International Engineering (Chalieco) and Changsha Engineering and Research Institute of Nonferrous Metallurgy, Coastal & Environmental Services, Knight Piésold, SRK Consulting, Intech Engineers and Digby Wells were associated with the feasibility study contracted to design the processing facility.

Snowden Optiro conducted the 2022 Balama Ore Reserve and 2022 Balama Mineral Resource.