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A scoping study into a European battery anode material (BAM) plant has proven up for ASX-listed Evion Group, previously known as Blackearth Minerals.

The proposed plant would process graphite concentrate from Evion’s Maniry project, in Madagascar, into uncoated spheronised purified graphite (SPG) for use in lithium-ion batteries.

The study reviewed five different process routes and two throughput rates as a precursor to a prefeasibility study, and estimated that the project would require a capital investment of some $117-million to support a 30 000 t/y production rate, and an investment of $74-million to support a 15 000 t/y production rate.

The larger project would have a pre-tax net present value of $392-million, compared with the $152-million estimated for the smaller project, while the internal rate of return varied from 39.5% to 28.4% respectively.

“Underpinned by our Maniry graphite project, this BAM plant has the potential to uniquely position Evion to capitalise on the strong growth demand for non-Chinese supplies of uncoated SPG from the European lithium-ion battery market,” said MD Tom Revy.

“By developing a vertically integrated graphite business, Evion is positioning itself to take full advantage of the highly favourable supply-demand fundamentals emerging for our products as a result of the energy transition.

“Evion continues to grow its development pipeline, which includes expandable graphite, uncoated SPG and the Maniry graphite project, in a controlled and strategic manner to provide shareholders more direct exposure to the fast-growing global graphite supply chain.

“The board believes that the quality portfolio of integrated projects it now holds, not only positions the company to deliver against our vision, but also represents significant potential value for our shareholders moving forward.”

Based on the outcomes of the study, Evion will undertake comprehensive test work on Maniry concentrate in order to better define the process flow sheet, optimise reagent schemes and understand the characteristics of the waste stream.

The company will also progress site selection studies for the final location of the processing facility, investigate further infrastructure options based on site requirements, produce data sheets for product produced from the purification flowsheet and start marketing activities.