Sovereign Metals shares rise on graphite sampling launch at Malawi project

By bne IntelliNews November 2, 2023

Sovereign Metals shares rose on Thursday (October 2) after the dual-listed miner said a bulk sampling programme to extract more than 100 metric tonnes of ore from its Kasiya natural rutile and graphite project in Malawi has begun.

Shares in London at 09:06 GMT were up 2.0 pence, or 8.5%, at 25.5 pence, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

The AIM- and ASX- listed Australian-listed mining company says on its website that Kasiya is the “largest” rutile deposit in the world with “more than double” the contained rutile as its nearest rutile peer, Sierra Rutile in Sierra Leone.

Sovereign said on Thursday that the sampling at the Malawi site – part of its graphite qualification programme – will produce more than 1,000 kilograms of natural graphite for lithium-ion battery anode testwork and product qualification.

The miner also said the upscaled graphite qualification programme will support upcoming project studies with its strategic partner, global mining giant Rio Tinto, which in July invested AUD40.4mn ($25.8mn) in return for a 15% stake in Sovereign. The companies are collaborating to qualify the graphite, as assurances of quality are key for sales.

Sovereign said that previous testwork had confirmed graphite from Kasiya has near perfect crystallinity and high purity, key attributes for the material’s suitability in lithium-ion battery feedstock.

Kasiya’s recent Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) confirmed it could be one of the world’s largest natural graphite producers at 244kt per annum with the lowest cash operating costs globally at $404/t and the lowest CO2-footprint.

The company added that its upscaled graphite programme in Malawi comes as China has moved to curb exports of natural graphite for the US, EU, Japan and Australia citing national security concerns.

Sovereign cited industry experts Benchmark Mineral Intelligence as saying China currently produces 61% of all flake graphite used in the production of lithium-ion battery anodes and accounts for 93% of all graphite anode production globally.

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