Australian miner Walkabout Resources has announced it is closing in on completion of the construction of its Lindi Jumbo graphite mine in Tanzania.

Walkabout began construction of the mine in 2021. The company estimates that production is 77% complete, with the required equipment expected to be delivered on two boats within a fortnight.

“The arrival on site of the large mechanical equipment means that the certain areas of the processing plant can be completed fairly rapidly and more areas opened up for the construction team,” explained Walkabout CEO Andrew Cunningham.

Shipments from Australia and China for the construction will set off later in June. However, the company has faced problems in the provision of these shipments. Earlier in June the shipment from China was suspended due a failure to complete a $20m debt drawdown.

One of the conditions for the drawdown was the completion of a standby letter of credit (SBLC), which was not confirmed. Walkabout claims the SBLC will be sourced and the shipment completed but added that it will take time.

The company still expects construction to finish by the final quarter of 2023.

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In the report, Walkabout estimates that the core zone of the deposit is of “super high grade”, with as much as five million tonnes of feed, 22.5% of which contains graphite.

Analysis company GlobalData estimates that graphite production is set to grow by as much as 4.6% in 2023. The Lindi Jumbo project is expected to be one of many that drive this increase from the likes of Mozambique, Madagascar and Tanzania. It comes after an even larger (7.6%) growth in the industry between 2021 and 2022. It is expected that 1,258.2 kilotons of graphite will be produced by the end of 2023.

Graphite is one of the metals that are expected to experience increased demand in step with the rise in electric vehicle demand. GlobalData estimates that Tanzania holds 5.6% of global graphite. While the focus is often on cathode materials like lithium and cobalt, graphite is also an essential part of a lithium-ion battery. Graphite is utilised in anode construction for the batteries, making some batteries roughly 28% graphite.