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FILE - Balama, Cabo Delgado. [File photo: Syrah Resources]
The Australian mining company Syrah Resources on Wednesday announced that in the first quarter of 2022 it increased both the production and sales of graphite from its mine in Balama district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
According to the company’s quarterly report, it produced 46kt of natural graphite with 35kt sold and shipped. This was possible due to the opening up of a new shipping route through the port of Pemba, augmenting the route via Nacala. Syrah revealed that its first shipment from Pemba arrived in China in March with another two breakbulk shipments from Pemba scheduled in the third quarter of the year.
The company’s operations are becoming even more profitable, with graphite being produced (free on board, FOB) at a cost of 464 US dollars per tonne, compared with average prices running at 573 US dollars per tonne.
During the first quarter of the year, 451 people were employed at Balama, not including contractors. The workforce is 96 per cent Mozambican, 37 per cent from the local community, and 18 per cent women.
Syrah also revealed that it has significant sales in its order book with over 90 kilotons of graphite in the rest of the year, with what it describes as “very strong forward demand for Balama’s high-quality products”. It puts this down to strong growth in the Chinese and global electric vehicle market.
The Balama mine covers 106 square kilometres and is reported to hold the largest graphite reserves ever discovered. It is an open cast mine and the company estimates the lifespan of the resource at more than fifty years.
Graphite is a highly valued form of carbon due to its properties as a conductor of electricity. It is used in batteries and fuel cells and is the basis for the “miracle material” graphene, which is the strongest material ever measured, with vast potential for use in the electronics industries.