'And we're both here to build a mine: Success to us is the opening day,' Mr de Vries said recently in a statement. The miner indicates inching closer to become a producer status - possibly in 2019. This is after big transition in 2017.
The firm, last year, successfully did some early product test work combined with an MoU signing with Japanese graphite supplier, Meiwa Corporation. Mahenge, with its 16-million-tonne JORC graphite resource—203 mertic tonnes grading an average of 7.8 per cent total graphite contained (TGC), and 48.3mt ore reserve (8.7 per cent average TGC)— certainly has the makings of a good mine.
Supporting an operation initially producing 80,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of graphite, the project bootstraps itself through two more expansions to a final run rate of 240,000- 250,000 tpa, for more than 30 years, in what de Vries sees as the 'oldest trick in the book … crawl, walk run'.
The JORC reserve also looks capable of yielding an exceptionally high-quality concentrate around 98-99 per cent pure with about 68 per cent of flakes in the material large-size and above. 'We believe we simply have the best natural flake graphite, and have done the work to prove it,' Mr de Vries said.
'Our DSF [Definitive Feasibility Study] will qualify what we see as US$375/t opex, but at that level even if we do end up selling Mahenge graphite for $800/t, we still have a valid investment case. If it becomes an energy materials mine and we sell at $1,200/t, it's an absolute stunner with 60 per cent operating margins.'
Black Rock's very deliberate strategy of seeking to build a 90 million US dollars mine with enough production (at those margins) to rapidly repay project finance and establish strong cash flow, while establishing a firm foothold in the global market, gives it a scalable and - on paper at least - compelling investment case that embodies what de Vries calls a 'Goldilocks' approach to project development.
SOURCE: DAILY NEWS
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