MRC completes purchase of Skaland Graphite

CBC Metal Time:Oct 09, 2019 14:16 Source:Fastmarkets

Australia-based global miner Mineral Resources has taken control of Europe’s biggest graphite mine with the purchase of Skaland Graphite, with changes already planned to improve concentrate quality.

Australia-listed Mineral Commodities (MRC) has finalized its acquisition of the Skaland Graphite business in northern Norway, taking full control on Friday October 4.

MRC will market all production from Skaland, which is the largest producing graphite mine in Europe. The deal means that MRC acquires capacity for 10,000 tonnes per year of graphite, with a license to increase output to 16,000 tpy.

"The company has already evaluated several opportunities to optimize the current operation, that would improve the concentrate quality before increasing production," executive chairman Mark Caruso said on October 7. "It will move to implement these initiatives and thereafter increase production."

Skaland Graphite is the owner and operator of the Traelen graphite mine and processing facility on the island of Senja. Skaland mined 37,000 tonnes of ore from there to feed to its processing plant in 2018.

Graphite flake prices have softened this year in response to weak demand from the refractories sector and strong supply.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for graphite flake, 94% C, +100 mesh (+194), cif Europe, has fallen by 21% since the start of this year to $630 per tonne on October 3.

Using Fastmarkets’ flake premium calculator, +197 grade material has an implied price of $757 per tonne.

MRC planned to develop its processing facility to produce spherical graphite for Norway’s strong battery sector.

"The company is progressing downstream processing, value-adding initiatives, and intends to move to producing battery anode material in the near term," Caruso said.

The original Skaland deposit was exhausted in 2006, when production moved to the Traelen mine. Graphite production in the area began in 1917. MRC has said that Skaland is currently the world’s highest grade flake graphite operation.

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