This study will look at installing a battery graphite demonstration plant at the Woxna site in Sweden.
A new plant means processing can be optimized and larger volumes of natural graphite anode material can be supplied to prospective lithium-ion battery customers.
Woxna, currently mothballed, is a fully constructed mine, with all processing, waste management and infrastructure in place. It was granted two years ago an extension to its operating license until 2041.
Last year, the firm completed testwork at Woxna to compare various graphite processing routes ahead of designing the potential plant.
Its market research amongst lithium-ion battery manufacturers has shown a substantial range of product purity, particle size distribution and price expectations, it said in a statement on Friday.
Positive spheronization test results
In October last year, the company hailed positive spheronization test results on graphite from the mine. Spheronization (also known as spheroidisation) is a milling and shaping process to reduce the size of graphite flakes while shaping the flakes in an elongate spheroid.
More than 10 kgs of spheronised material were produced, which will be purified to battery grade and used in lithium-ion battery cell testing, the firm said last year.
"Our graphite processing research during 2018 has delivered the dataset needed to progress to the design of the Woxna battery graphite demonstration plant," said Blair Way, the president and CEO of Leading Edge. "The demonstration plant will allow us to optimize flowsheets before committing to mine-scale investments, bring processing expertise in house, and enable deeper customer engagement through the supply of hundreds of kilograms of natural graphite anode for in-line testing and qualification."
Operating parameters for the demonstration plant include:
- Thermal purification capacity up to 100kg's per day
- Spheronising capacity up to 250 kg's per day
- Laboratory equipment to facilitate in-house analysis of products
LEM's assets and research is focused on raw materials for Li-ion batteries (graphite, lithium, cobalt), as well as materials for high thermal efficiency building products (graphite, silica, nepheline), and materials that improve the efficiency of energy generation (dysprosium, neodymium, hafnium).