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Specialist graphite and graphene developer Tirupati Graphite has opened its second mine in Madagascar – Vatomina – where it remains on track to start commissioning the first 9 000 t/y processing plant in the second quarter.

To support increasing demand for its products, Tirupati continues to make good progress advancing its speciality graphite and graphene processing businesses in India, as well as its two primary mining and processing projects in Madagascar – Vatomina and Sahamamy – where it aims to increase production capacity to a globally significant 84 000 t/y by 2024 in several modules.

“The opening of the mine marks the beginning of commercial operations at the greenfield Vatomina project, taking us one step further towards our goal of increasing capacity in Madagascar to 30 000 t/y by quarter one 2022 and 84 000 t/y by 2024,” says CEO Shishir Poddar.

Over the next four to six weeks, the company will strip the overburden and mine ore at Vatomina to start stockpiling of feed stock for the upcoming 9 000 t/y processing plant.

Meanwhile, Tirupati has also completed construction on a 12 km new interconnecting road that runs between Vatomina and Sahamamy, which will save about 5% in current operational expenditure (opex) towards logistics costs.

“We are equally delighted that our new road between our two projects, Vatomina and Sahamamy, is now complete, providing them direct access to the national highway and thereby helping us reduce our opex,” notes Poddar.

Tirupati has also initiated preparations to start the accelerated construction of Sahamamy’s next plant, which has a planned capacity of 18 000 t/y.

“As demonstrated by the huge support we received for our oversubscribed £10-million placing last week, investors are increasingly cognisant of graphite’s role in the green economy and energy transition,” he notes.

Poddar points out that, given graphite’s unique properties that enable a multitude of green applications including its use in lithium-ion batteries and flame retardants, the high-tech graphite industry continues to experience growing demand and tightening supply.

“We, therefore, believe a prolonged supply shortage is likely; the opening of our new Vatomina mine will go some way to plugging the supply gap with our high-quality natural flake graphite,” he acclaims.