Australia-based Syrah Resources has decided to recommence production at the Balama Graphite Operation in Mozambique as pandemic restrictions begin to ease.

Said to be the world’s largest high-grade graphite deposit, the Balama Graphite Project is located on a 106km² mining concession within the Cabo Delgado province in the district of Namuno.

Operations were suspended at the mine in March last year as the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic restricted mobility of the Balama workforce and affected demand from users.

Syrah earlier said that there was no natural graphite production at the mine during Q2-2020 as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, which negatively impacted the sales of electric vehicles (EV).

Graphite is a major component of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries used in EVs and energy storage.

In order to preserve cash during the production suspension period, Syrah announced labour restructuring at Balama mine and other actions in July last year.

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By GlobalData

The move was intended to help Syrah retain operating and marketing capability to restart production once travel bans are eased.

In a press statement, the company said: “Syrah is able to manage within current travel restrictions, and market conditions are deemed supportive of recommencing production.

“Syrah will now progress the recruitment of labour required to restart operations at Balama, with first production expected within two to three months.”

In September 2017, Syrah planned to raise A$110m ($87.89m) through an institutional placement to allocate funds needed for developing the Balama graphite project.

In the same month, the company agreed to sell graphite from the Balama operation to Chinese battery anode manufacturer BTR’s subsidiary Jixi BTR Graphite Industrial.