The Epanko graphite project owned by Kibaran Resources is located in the Mahenge Graphite Province, Tanzania. The project received the environmental impact assessment certificate in May 2015 making it the first Tanzanian graphite mine to receive the certificate since the historic Graphtan graphite mine at Merelani.
The Tanzanian Ministry of Energy and Minerals granted the mining licence for hte project in July 2015. Construction is expected to start in the first half of 2016, while operations are expected to begin by early 2017.
The project is expected to produce 40,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of high-grade graphite flake concentrate for the first 15 years, over its mine life of 25 years.
Epanko graphite project geology and mineralisation
The Tanzanian mine is hosted within a quartz-feldspar-carbonate graphitic schist, which is part of a Neoproterozoic metasediment package, including marble and gneissic units. The deposit is categorised into two graphitic schist zones namely the East Zone and the West Zone.
Graphitic mineralisation is hosted within a graphitic schist along the mine strike continuity within the license area. Metallurgical characteristics, principally flake size, are available on a consistent basis in the outcrop, trench exposure and diamond drill core at numerous locations within the license area.
Epanko graphite project reserves
The Epanko graphite mine is estimated to contain proven and probable ore reserves of 10.9 million tonnes (Mt) at a total graphitic carbon (TGC) grade of 8.6%. The mine is anticipated to contain 938,000t of graphite.
The measured, indicated and inferred resources are estimated to be 23.3Mt grading 9.4% TGC, whereas contained graphite is estimated to be 2.19Mt.
Mining and processing
Conventional open-cut methods of mining will be employed at Epanko, supported by a flotation processing plant with a nameplate throughput of 480,000t/y. Approximately 57,000 billion cubic metres (bcm) of ore a month will be mobilised from the mine using an 80t excavator and 40t articulated trucks.
Most of the ore is contained within the Eastern and Western deposits, which are located within 1km of the run-of-mine (ROM) pad.
The processing plant will consist of a two-stage crushing circuit that will deliver product to a storage bin. Ore will be collected from the storage bin and delivered to a single-stage rod mill operating in closed-circuit with a screen. The undersize from the mill product screen will report to a flotation circuit for recovery of the graphite using a circuit comprising rougher, scavenger, primary cleaner and secondary cleaner flotation stages.
Lac Guéret open pit graphite mine is being developed by Mason Graphite, which acquired the property from Cliffs Natural Resources in 2012.
The resulting graphite concentrate will be filtered and dried, and the dried concentrate will be screened into various product sizes and packaged in bags for shipping. Flotation tailings will be sent to the tailings thickener and then pumped to the tailings storage facility.
Transport of graphite concentrate produced at Epanko
The graphite concentrate is expected to be directly trucked to the port of Dar es Salaam for export to customers. An option to transport the concentrate to the port site through rail is also being considered.
Kibaran signed an agreement with a European graphite trader in December 2013 for the sale of 10,000t/y of graphite produced at the Epanko project for an initial period of five years with an option to renew for a further five years.
In August 2015, Kibaran Resources executed a letter of intent (LOI) with ThyssenKrupp Metallurgical Products, a part of the ThyssenKrupp group, for a minimum sale of 20,000t/y of natural flake graphite for a period of ten years.
Infrastructure facilities at the Tanzanian graphite project
The graphite project will utilise diesel-generated power for the first two years of production, followed by power from the new substation at Ifakara that is being constructed by the Rural Energy Agency of Tanzania. Kibaran will construct a 33kV power line to connect the Ifakara substation to the Epanko mine.
The produced tailings will be transported to the tailings storage facility, which will have a capacity to hold 10.3Mt.
Key players involved
Kibaran Resources engaged GR Engineering Services (GRES) to manage the bankable feasibility study (BFS) for the graphite mine.
Intermine Engineering Consultants conducted pit optimisation, staged mine design and LOM mine scheduling as part of the feasibility study.