EcoGraf Ltd, a diversified battery anode materials company, has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with Vermeer Equipment Suppliers to explore low-emission mining methods at Tanzania’s Epanko Graphite Project. Vermeer Equipment Suppliers (Pty) Ltd is the Sub-Saharan African distributor of Vermeer Manufacturing Company, which was founded in 1948 in the United States and now employs over 4,000 people worldwide. Vermeer is a well-known manufacturer of underground construction, surface mining, agricultural, and environmental machinery.
EcoGraf is building a diversified battery anode material business to produce high purity graphite products for the lithium-ion battery and advanced manufacturing markets. Over US$30 million has been invested to date to create two highly attractive, development-ready graphite businesses.
Vermeer and EcoGraf have agreed to evaluate the suitability of a new and alternative surface mining concept with one of Vermeer’s surface miners to economically mine, load and haul Epanko ore, with a resulting lower environmental impact and carbon footprint than conventional mining processes. Initial environmental and cost benefits of the continuous miner are expected to include:
Increased slope stability and slope angles resulting in smaller mine footprints, thereby reducing the volume of waste and surface area impacts;
Eliminating drilling and blasting;
Reduced haul truck emissions through increased payload; and
A reduction in mining equipment and the requirement for primary crushing.
Under exclusivity arrangements, EcoGraf will provide Epanko’s extensive geotechnical, geological, structural and mining data to Vermeer to undertake an initial study to provide technical and economic data relating to surface miner performance. If the results of that study are sufficiently encouraging, EcoGraf and Vermeer will together formulate a practical onsite test.
The agreement with Vemeer is part of EcoGraf’s enhancement studies underway for Epanko, following the encouraging steps being taken by the Government of Tanzania to attract increased foreign investment and positive progress about the debt financing arrangements for the construction of the new Epanko Graphite Mine.
The company also expects to finalise its review of the large ‘fresh rock’ graphite zone within the Epanko Mineral Resource to define the potential to deliver a high purity 99% carbon graphite, without additional processing. The extensive metallurgical test work undertaken as part of the Independent Engineer’s Review for debt financing indicates that this material will provide an excellent long-term feedstock to the EcoGraf™ HFfree Battery Anode Material Facilities and is expected to lead to a reduction in purification reagent consumption rates and production costs.
EcoGraf said it is “enhancing Epanko’s sector-leading ESG Credentials and leveraging off the bankable feasibility study social and environmental planning programs that have been conducted in compliance with the Equator Principles, a globally recognised risk management framework adopted by leading financial institutions for assessing and managing social and environmental risks in new developments. The Epanko development will provide inter-generational economic and social benefits for the regional community near Mahenge in Tanzania and will support Tanzania’s positive industrialisation progress.”
In recent weeks EcoGraf’s in-country project development company TanzGraphite (TZ) Ltd has held a series of meetings across all levels of Government in Tanzania to discuss arrangements for the development of the Epanko Graphite Project. Epanko was showcased during the 4th International Minerals and Mining Investment Conference held February 22-23 in Dar es Salaam. At the event, TanzGraphite was honoured to be recognised as ‘first runner’ at the conference, with the award in recognition of the interest generated by the Epanko Graphite Project and TanzGraphite’s support for the government’s efforts to promote Tanzania’s minerals sector. EcoGraf is looking forward to working with the Vermeer team and providing the results of the initial study.