OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov 8, 2012) - Northern Graphite Corporation (TSX VENTURE:NGC)(NGPHF) is pleased to announce that ongoing metallurgical testing by Hazen Research has succeeded in purifying spherical graphite from the Bissett Creek deposit up to 99.99% graphitic carbon ("Cg") and large flake graphite to 99.83% Cg. These bench scale tests are the first step in demonstrating that the laboratory process developed by Northern can be scaled to commercial levels.
Hazen Research''s initial mandate was to test the laboratory process developed by Northern''s research partner in Canada, on bench scale models of commercial units. The trials were highly successful in purifying spherical graphite to levels ranging from 99.93% Cg to 99.99% Cg. The requirements of battery manufacturers vary in particle size and purity with the latter specification usually being in the 99.9 to 99.95% Cg range. Large flake graphite was purified to levels ranging from 99.73 to 99.83%Cg with further improvements possible.
The next steps will be to further scale up the process in a Pilot Plant test that will enable Hazen to define operating parameters at a commercial level and to estimate capital and operating costs. As part of this process, Northern and Hazen are presently working with an equipment manufacturer to identify the matching full scale commercial unit that can be modified to suit the process requirements. The ultimate objective is to define a purification process that works not only with spherical graphite for battery use, but also flake graphite and micronized flake graphite for other applications requiring high purity.
Spherical graphite is used to make the anodes in Li ion batteries and is manufactured from the flake concentrate produced by graphite mining operations. Almost all natural spherical graphite is currently produced in China and purified using strong acids which results in large volumes of acidic and toxic waste. Thermal purification at temperatures as high as 2400 degrees C can be used but it is expensive in terms of capital and operating costs. The proprietary purification technology developed by Northern and its metallurgical research partners is much more environmentally friendly than the Chinese approach and operates at significantly lower temperatures than traditional thermal methods. It also involves relatively low retention times in the furnace and will likely be a continuous rather than a batch process. As a result, costs should be significantly lower.
Hazen Research is currently purifying larger quantities of spherical graphite to provide potential strategic partners in the battery industry with samples made from Bissett Creek ore that has been processed using Northern''s commercial mill flow sheet and purified in an environmentally sustainable manner. It has already been successfully tested in batteries at the National Research Council of Canada.
Gregory Bowes, Chief Executive Officer, stated that: "The purification process and the production of spherical graphite are part of the Company''s strategy to create value for shareholders by doing value added and downstream processing in addition to being a mine operator."
The Graphite Market
Graphite demand and prices have increased substantially over the past few years due to the ongoing modernization of China and other emerging economies which has resulted in strong demand from traditional steel and automotive markets. In addition, Li ion batteries and other new applications such as vanadium redox batteries, fuel cells and nuclear power have the potential to create significant incremental demand growth.
China currently produces over 70% of the world''s graphite and an export tax and a licensing system have been instituted to restrict exports and encourage value added processing in China. Recently, the Chinese government proposed a new set of rules and standards for graphite mines which will make them much more difficult to operate and build. These proposals follow calls for REE type protection and quotas from Chinese producers, and the formation of a state owned amorphous graphite monopoly that has acquired and is consolidating 210 amorphous graphite mines down to 20 and reducing production capacity from 600,000 to 510,000 tonnes per year. No new graphite mines were built during the recent economic cycle and the supply situation will become more acute as Chinese restrictions increase and economies recover. Both the European Union and the United States have declared graphite a supply critical mineral.
Northern files revised Technical Report on SEDAR for TSX-V Tier 1 Graduation Application
Northern also announces that in connection with its application to graduate to Tier 1 of the TSX Venture Exchange ("TSX-V"), it has filed a revised technical report on SEDAR with respect to the bankable feasibility study for its 100% owned Bissett Creek graphite deposit. The revised technical report has been filed to correct minor deficiencies in the original report, filed on SEDAR on August 24, 2012, which were identified by the TSX-V in its review of the report in connection with Northern''s graduation application. There have been no material changes to the bankable feasibility study or the technical report. Northern''s application to graduate to Tier 1 of the TSX-V remains subject to review and approval by the TSX-V.
Northern Graphite Corporation
Northern Graphite Corporation is a Canadian company that has a 100% interest in the Bissett Creek graphite deposit located in eastern Ontario and is well positioned to benefit from the favorable supply/demand outlook for graphite. Northern is the only graphite company to have completed a bankable Feasibility Study and has a large flake, high purity, scalable deposit that is located close to infrastructure with very competitive operating costs. Additional information is available under the Company''s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on the Company''s website at www.northerngraphite.com.
Hazen Research, Inc. was organized in 1961 to provide process research and development services to the extractive metallurgy and chemical industries. Hazen has assembled an experienced and competent staff supported by the laboratory and pilot plant facilities necessary to apply the most appropriate technology to the industrial, commercial, and environmental challenges of their clients.
Don Baxter, P.Eng, President of the Company and a "Qualified Person" under 43-101, is responsible for and has reviewed and approved the technical content of this press release.
This press release contains forward-looking statements, which can be identified by the use of statements that include words such as "could", "potential", "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "plan", "likely", "will" or other similar words or phrases. These statements are only current predictions and are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our or our industry''s actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those anticipated by the forward-looking statements. The Company does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless otherwise required by applicable securities laws. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.