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Hazer Group has signed a non-binding heads of agreement with Australian mining infrastructure services firm Mineral Resources for the potential development of commercial synthetic graphite facilities.

Under the deal, the companies will work to jointly develop a commercial synthetic graphite facility, which is expected to initially produce at least 1,000tpa of ultra-high purity graphite.

The facility is said to have the potential of modular expansion to a nominal 10,000tpa.

The agreement will see Mineral Resources funding the entire project across all required stages of scale-up and development, while Hazer is required to provide technical assistance.

Hazer is expected to receive royalties from revenue earned by the sale of graphite from the commercial facility.

“The company has substantial existing exposure to the battery industry to enable rapid market penetration.”

Hazer Group managing director Geoff Pocock said: “Mineral Resources has been a significant shareholder and supporter of Hazer since our IPO, and are the ideal partner for this next stage of commercialisation towards high-value synthetic graphite products.

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“Mineral Resources has an excellent track record in innovation and in delivering projects in accelerated timeframes. The company has substantial existing exposure to the battery industry to enable rapid market penetration.”

The partnership will initially focus on a pilot scale facility with integrated purification capability.

The facility is expected to have the ability to produce 1tpa of ultra-high-purity graphite suitable for applications such as batteries and electrodes.

Commissioning of the pilot plant is scheduled to take place in the middle of next year.

Once the design and performance of the pilot plant is satisfactory to the parties, Mineral Resources is then expected to design and construct a commercial scale production facility.