Lithium Energy Limited (ASX: LEL) has expressed confidence that high-grade natural graphite within the company’s Burke graphite deposit in northwest Queensland could be well-suited for use in lithium-ion batteries.
The company reports that it has engaged Australia’s national science agency the CSIRO to undertake spheronisation and purification of its natural graphite particles for potential use in lithium-ion batteries, along with electrochemical optimisation test work. The 4-month project will receive 50% funding from the CSIRO’s Kick-Start Program.
Previous test work had confirmed that Burke graphite was able to be processed to a concentrate of purity in excess of 95%, and up to 99% using a standard flotation process
Upon completion, LEL plans to re-engage with Chinese and Japanese parties who have previously expressed a strong interest in graphite from the Burke Project.
Highest-grade graphite deposits globally
The Burke Graphite Deposit is one of the highest-grade graphite deposits globally, with a JORC inferred mineral resource grade of 16% Total Graphitic Carbon (TGC), within which there is a higher-grade component 2.3Mt @ 20.6% TGC. The deposit’s high grade and low impurities make it particularly well-suited for use in lithium-ion batteries.
Good electrochemical performance in previous test work results
Previous test work had confirmed that Burke graphite was able to be processed to a concentrate of purity in excess of 95%, and up to 99% using a standard flotation process.
Further testing, undertaken by the CSIRO to determine the suitability of the graphite in lithium-ion batteries included the fabrication of coin battery cells using Burke graphite in electrodes to determine the influence of flake size on performance.
Results showed that the Burke natural graphite demonstrated good performance in a coin cell configuration compared to synthetic graphite-based electrodes.
Importantly, Burke graphite cells also showed generally higher levels of capacity compared with control coin cells when repeatedly charged and discharged over a 10 hour cycle time. This critical aspect of the electrical storage capacity was described by LEL as ‘highly encouraging’.