Graphite: properties, uses and South Australian resources

John Keeling Geological Survey of , Department of the Premier and Cabinet

Background and properties is 2.266 g/cm3 but the measured specific gravity is typically between 2.20–2.30 depending on purity; Graphite is a versatile industrial with high values are due mostly to impurities, low values unique properties that have facilitated technological are associated with trapped porosity. Graphite is innovation, beginning in the soft, Mohs hardness of 1–2, greasy to the feel, and with discovery of high-grade lump graphite at is flexible and sectile, but not elastic. It commonly , England. Borrowdale graphite was forms as foliated or scaly masses but may be carved into sticks for convenient durable radiated or granular, and is opaque with a markers and had strategic importance as a metallic but can also be dull and earthy. lining in moulds that produced superior, smooth and round cannonballs with greater The graphite content in commercial graphite projectile range. Today, natural graphite is a key samples is determined routinely by LECO furnace component in high-performance refractory linings method with pre-treatments, as necessary, to for manufacture, high-charge capacity eliminate associated with carbonate for lithium-ion batteries, and a source of and non-graphitic organic matter (e.g. Sader et to inspire a new generation of smart materials. al. 2015). Analyses are reported as percentage carbon (C) or as graphitic carbon (Cg); the trend Graphite, like , is a crystalline form in reporting resources data for natural graphite of carbon. Graphite and diamond are natural deposits is to use the term ‘total graphitic carbon’ (i.e. different molecular forms (TGC). of the same element) that arise from the way the carbon are joined together and arranged to form regular structures. In diamond, each carbon Graphite sources is bound to four other carbon atoms by strong Commercial sources of natural graphite are covalent bonds in a regular isometric structure commonly classified as flake graphite (Fig. 1), that gives rise to the hardest known mineral. In or ‘lump’ graphite, and ‘amorphous’ graphite, carbon atoms are bonded to only three other carbon atoms to form strong, two dimensional layers, that are extremely stable, but where each layer is only weakly linked to adjacent layers by van der Waal’s forces. The resulting hexagonal layered structure forms one of the softest minerals. The presence of an unpaired valence makes graphite an excellent within the plane of the layers. Graphite is inert towards most chemicals and has a high melting point of ~3,550 °C, but in the presence of oxygen will begin to oxidise at temperatures >300 °C and can be induced to sustain burning above 650 °C, given suitable conditions; the rate of thermal oxidation is slow but increases with increasing temperature. in graphite is anisotropic but is very high in the direction parallel to the plane of Figure 1 Coarse flake graphite product (>300 µm), the layers. The calculated of graphite Uley Mine. (Photo 415949)

28 MESA Journal 84 2017 – Issue 3 Graphite

Table 1 Summary of characteristics of different forms of commercial Recent studies concluded that these formed as the natural graphite result of dehydration and rehydration reactions Flake Vein Amorphous of CO2 and CH4 fluids, generated during dioritic Description Crystalline graphite Interlocking Microcrystalline, magma assimilation of organic-rich metapelites flakes; coarse >150 µm; aggregates of soft earthy fine <150 µm coarse graphite graphite; mostly at comparatively low temperature and pressure of ; typically <40 µm 400–500 °C and 1–2 kbar, respectively (Luque et >4 cm al. 2009; Ortega et al. 2010). Vein graphite from Origin Syngenetic; regional Epigenetic; Syngenetic; shows needle-like macro morphology of regional contact and/or organic matter in metamorphism; regional thermal and flake-like micro morphology and is produced metasedimentary rocks metasomatism metamorphism of as centimetre-sized lumps of mostly high purity involving CO – seams 2 graphite (94–99% Cg). CH4–H2O fluids 2–30% graphite; >90% graphite; >70% graphite; stratabound, tabular or veins and in anthracitic coal Amorphous graphite is produced mostly from lenses infill layers, typically anthracitic coal seams that have undergone folded and variable graphitisation during contact or regional faulted metamorphism. This form of graphite is typically Product grade 85–97% Cg 90–99% Cg 75–90% Cg massive and has comparatively high levels of fine- Main uses , batteries, Carbon brushes, Steel recarburiser, brake linings, flame brake linings, mould grained impurities that are not easily separable from retardants batteries, facing, , the graphite. Commercial grades typically range lubricants from 75 to 85% Cg. Some ‘amorphous graphite’ is Major producers , , , Sri Lanka China, Mexico, also produced as a fine-grained graphite byproduct Canada , from flake graphite mining and processing. Source: Updated from Mitchell (1993). Total production of natural graphite in 2015 was estimated to be 1.19 Mt ( Geological (microcrystalline) graphite (Table 1). Broadly, these Survey 2017) with China the largest producer reflect the geological setting and conditions under (Fig. 2). Natural graphite product was comprised which the graphite formed. of 50% amorphous graphite – predominantly from China and Mexico; 49% flake graphite – dominated Flake graphite is associated mostly with high- by China with significant production also from India grade metamorphic rocks where organic carbon and Brazil; and <1% vein graphite from Sri Lanka. deposited within sediments was transformed into graphite by pressures typically exceeding 5 kbar Synthetic graphite is made by heating amorphous and temperatures above 700 °C. The process of carbon materials, such as calcined petroleum metamorphic graphitisation is controlled largely of suitable crystalline quality (i.e. high proportion by temperature and is essentially complete above of naturally occurring rings), in a reducing 500 °C (Wang 1989), but pressure, duration of the environment at temperatures between 2,300 to metamorphic event, increasing temperature and 3,000 °C to convert it to graphite. The process of shear strain influence the degree of crystallisation preparation, heating and cooling takes several and the size of graphite flakes (Buseck and Huang weeks to several months. Graphite fibres are 1985; Beyssac et al. 2002). Graphite-bearing manufactured by high-temperature conversion of rocks include orthoquartzite and marble but more polyacrylonitrile, pitch or rayon precursors. commonly are –biotite and gneiss, sometimes with sulfide minerals, and usually with a variable content of associated metamorphic Russia 1% Norway 1% minerals including feldspar, muscovite, chlorite, Mexio 2% Zimbabwe 1% garnet, orthopyroxene or sillimanite. The graphite is Canada 2% Sri Lanka 0.3% often present as flakes or elongate patches aligned North Korea 2% Other 1% with the schistosity or banding to form lenses or Turkey 3%

layers where the graphite content can exceed 10% of Brazil 7% the rock.

Vein graphite occurs as vein, fracture fill or pipe-like Total India 1.19 Mt China bodies where graphitic carbon and/or carbon-rich 14% 66% fluids have migrated and precipitated as graphite masses. High-grade, vein-style graphite is known from several countries, but at present is produced only from Sri Lanka, a long-term supplier. Former sources include the historic Borrowdale mine 204947-018 where highly crystalline graphite forms pipe-like Figure 2 Natural graphite production volume by country bodies, fracture fill and disseminated replacements. in 2015. (Source: United States Geological Survey 2017)

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Graphite demand Synthetic graphite makes up over 90% of the value of the global graphitic carbon market, which was Graphite estimated during peak demand in 2012 at around 2.7 Mtpa $US14 billion (Fig. 3). Natural graphite accounted for less than 10% by value but the quantities produced were similar with ~1.2 Mt natural graphite and ~1.5 Mt synthetic graphite (Fig. 4). Natural graphite Synthetic graphite 1.2 Mtpa 1.5 Mtpa Independent estimates of natural graphite demand for 2014 and 2015 were <700,000 tpa (Fig. 5), with significant oversupply driving lower prices Flake and (Schodde 2016; Spencer and Hill 2016). Demand Powders vein for flake graphite is presently under 400,000 tpa, >600 ktpa 500 ktpa but this is anticipated to rise substantially in line with the growth in manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for portable devices, electric vehicles and energy Shapes storage (Fig. 5). Amorphous () 700 ktpa <900 ktpa Synthetic vs natural graphite Synthetic and natural graphite supply mostly separate markets but there is increasing overlap Carbon fibre in uses (Fig. 3), influenced mostly by factors of >35 ktpa price and purity. Synthetic graphite is engineered to specific specifications with high purity and predictable properties, but is less conductive and Figure 4 Global graphite production by estimated more expensive than natural graphite. Synthetic tonnage in 2012. (Sources: Roskill; AMG Graphite 2015; graphite is used to make electrodes for metal SGL Group) refining, principally in electric arc furnaces used for steel production and large cathodes that line electrolytic cells used in aluminium smelting. of high-performance refractories. These are used Other uses include graphite blocks and powders, in to line ladles and the zones most carbon brushes and bearings, and graphite fibre vulnerable to slag in basic oxygen reinforcement in polymer composites. Natural and electric arc furnaces, usually in the form of amorphous graphite is used as a carbon raiser magnesia-carbon bricks or alumina-graphite in casting and steelmaking, as a facing on ware and monolithic refractories (Ewais 2004; foundry moulds, and for pencil manufacture. Flake Stein and Aneziris 2014). Coarser grades of flake graphite is consumed mainly in the production graphite (Table 2) have a slower rate of oxidation

(a) US$14 billion (b) US$1 billion

Specialties Other (synthetic and natural) 3% Industrials Carbon fibre 12% (synthetic) 22% 29%

Powder (synthetic and natural) 11% Refractories Other 52% Batteries (synthetic and 23% natural) 9%

Electrodes (synthetic) 39% 204947-016

Figure 3 Global graphite markets by value in 2012. (a) Synthetic and natural graphite. (b) Natural flake graphite – excluding amorphous graphite. (Sources: Roskill; AMG Graphite 2015; SGL Group)

30 MESA Journal 84 2017 – Issue 3 Graphite

Graphite (Mt) Price (USD)

2.50 2500 Graphite battery Graphite other (includes 'amorphous' graphite) Forecast Price USD (mid-year price for large flake >90% Cg) 2.00 2000

1.50 1500

1.00 1000

0.50 500

0.00 0

1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025

204947-017 Figure 5 Historical and forecast demand for natural graphite (1990–2025) with graphite for battery anode highlighted in red; historical price trend for natural graphite, large flake >90% Cg shown in green. (Modified from Schodde 2016; sources: historical data from Roskill; forecast from Canaccord Genuity in Spencer and Hill 2016; prices from Industrial Minerals Pricing News)

Table 2 Flake graphite particle size ranges widely applied for industrial uses Particle size range Flake category Microns Millimetres Mesh (µm) (mm) number Jumbo >300 >0.3 +48 Coarse Large 180–300 0.18–0.3 48–80 Medium 150–180 0.15–0.3 80–100 Fine 75–150 0.075–0.15 100–200 Very fine (amorphous) <75 <0.075 –200

and are preferred by refractory manufacturers, but surface treatments and antioxidants are widely used that also improve the performance of more readily available medium-flake graphite (Ewais 2004; Lee and Zhang 2004). Figure 6 Spherical graphite shapes for battery anodes produced by milling flake graphite. (Source: Syrah Resources) Battery anodes Both synthetic and natural graphite make effective, stable anodes for batteries. Increased demand for graphite in this market is being reduce the surface area of graphite flakes and driven by the growth in manufacture of lithium- increase the anode packing density. This improves ion batteries. High electrical storage and good the rate and extent of intercalation of lithium charge cycling characteristics can be achieved ions into the graphite, reduces the tendency for using natural graphite after treatment by impact exfoliation, and controls the formation of milling to crumple the flakes into spherical electrolyte interphase, which consumes lithium ions shapes (Fig. 6), followed by acid or thermal and can lower battery capacity (Joho et al. 2001; purification (>99.5% Cg), then coating with a thin An et al. 2016). Anode technologies continue to film of (Yoshio et al. 2004; evolve and further improvement in reversible charge Mundszinger et al. 2017). The shaping and coating capacity and cycling performance is achieved by

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coating processed natural graphite with Graphene (e.g. Zhang et al. 2007). Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms with tensile strength >100 times that of steel, and with Processing of natural graphite into spherical much higher electrical and heat conductivity than shapes currently has low efficiency, resulting in high copper or silver (Novoselov et al. 2012). Potential quantities (50–70%) of very fine grained, relatively applications include batteries, , high-grade graphite ‘waste’ that will likely displace electronic, energy storage, water desalination, adsorbents, surface coatings and biomedical, amorphous graphite in some traditional markets. although new products are mostly still in research Despite the high wastage, natural spherical graphite and development. Graphene, or graphene-like anodes offer cost savings over synthetic graphite. products comprising several layers of carbon atoms, An estimated >35,000 t of natural graphite anode can be derived from natural graphite by chemical was used in 2015 out of a total oxidation and exfoliation to give a graphene anode demand of >75,000 t (Pillot 2016). Anode product (Tung et al. 2016), which can then be graphite demand is anticipated to rise to between reduced using amino acids to give nanosheets 250,000 and 400,000 t by 2020, mostly to service with fewer oxygen groups and good stability in projected increased sales of portable electronic aqueous dispersions (Tran, Kabiri and Losic 2014). devices and electric vehicles (Benchmark Mineral Highest quality graphene coatings are produced Intelligence 2016). Assuming use of natural synthetically (Novoselov et al. 2012). Demand for graphite in anodes is 50%, a conversion efficiency graphene from natural graphite or synthetic sources of 50% would require ~400,000 t of quality flake is still exceedingly small and the impact on existing graphite to meet the upper projection. This is in line markets or the requirements for new markets await with the Industrial Minerals Research forecast of further commercial developments. ~360,000 t of flake graphite for anodes by 2020 (Patel 2017). Improvement in production efficiency Other developing markets of spherical graphite is expected from new resource developments that will produce higher grades of Technologies already developed that could impact flake graphite product (95–98% Cg) and offer future demand for graphite include fuel cells, where hydrogen and oxygen are reacted via a proton- greater choice of flake size in the range 50–300 µm. exchange graphite membrane to generate electrical Being more selective in the flake size range used energy and water, flow batteries, and pebble- to produce spherical graphite is one approach bed nuclear reactors, where fuel pellets to achieving higher yields of anode product with are encased in nuclear-grade graphite pebbles, specified median particle size (varies from 5 to ~60 mm in diameter. Further commercialisation 25 µm depending on the battery device; Moores of these technologies would substantially increase 2016). the demand for graphite, although the specification for very low levels of impurities presently favours synthetic graphite over purified natural graphite. Expandable flake graphite Demand for expandable natural flake graphite is The current slowdown in steel manufacture also expected to increase, principally for use as a worldwide has resulted in an oversupply of graphite and a reduction from the high prices achieved fire retardant additive in foam, and various during 2011–12 (Fig. 5). Growth in the near term construction materials (Ghilotti 2016). For this will be driven by developments in the battery market use, suitable flake graphite is intercalated with a and the steel industry, but future opportunities for chemical species (e.g. halogens, sulfate, nitrate, growth in graphite markets clearly exist across organic acids, ferric chloride) which will rapidly various emerging technologies. gasify at high temperatures causing the graphite to exfoliate/expand to between 80 and 300 times. Coarse flakes (>300 µm) show the highest South Australian natural graphite expansion but finer sizes (<150 µm) are preferred Numerous graphite occurrences have been recorded for some applications. On expansion, graphite in Neoarchean to Paleoproterozoic high-grade retards the spread of fire and minimises the creation metamorphic rocks on in the of toxic gases and fumes. Expanded graphite can southern Gawler Craton (Fig. 7). Occurrences of also be interlocked and compressed to give an graphite from Sleaford Bay, south of , essentially flat, flexible, integrated graphite foil, to Kimba in the north were reported shortly after which is widely used as gaskets and seals (Chung European settlement of the region in the late 1800s 1987), with potential use also as a separation layer to early 1900s (Brown 1908). Many of these were in fuel cells and redox flow batteries. prospected extensively during the 1910s and 1920s

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135°E 135°30'E 136°E 136°30'E 137°E from the world’s leading suppliers, and anticipated ") Poochera Iron Knob ") additional increase in demand for natural flake graphite, principally for lithium-ion batteries. EYRE Exploration resulted in further discoveries on Eyre

33°S ") Wudinna Peninsula and subsequent resource drilling at Uley, Kimba Kyancutta ") HIGHWAY ") Kookaburra Gully, , Campoona, Wilclo

See South, Oakdale, Oakdale East and Siviour deposits Fig. 13 WILCLO SOUTH (Fig. 7).


SUGARLOAF Total graphite resources across all Eyre Peninsula 33°30'S ")Lock

") HIGHWAY CAMPOONA CENTRAL HWY deposits, as at June 2017, exceeds 100 Mt with FLINDERS Elliston ") ") grades ranging from 3 to 17% TGC, for ~8.6 Mt of OAKDALE Cleve Cowell in situ graphite (Table 3). The resources and grades Zone ") are significant in terms of current world demand for ERE PENINSUA Arno Bay SIVIOUR

34°S natural crystalline flake graphite of ~0.5 Mtpa, but

HIGHWAY Mylonite are an order of magnitude smaller than resources LINCOLN with comparable, or higher, grades discovered ") Cummins Spencer Gulf recently in northern Mozambique and southern Kalinjala KOOKABURRA GULLY See Fig. 11 Tanzania. Graphite deposits are not rare globally. KOPPIO The viability of individual deposits is a function of 34°30'S ") competitive supply and demand, influenced by Port Lincoln economic factors of development, processing and ") ULEY 0 25 50 km transport costs, and also physical characteristics of

Zone 53 the graphite product in terms of particle size and Mikkira shape and the composition and characteristics of

35°S Graphite Province impurities (Fig. 8). ERD 204947-013

") SOUTH AUSTRALIA Major graphite deposit Locality Graphite occurrence Principal Road Exploration and mining Secondary road Kalinjala Mylonite Zone Railway Graphite exploration and mining activity in South Whyalla Mikkira Graphite Province ") Australia prior to 1993 is described in Valentine Port Lincoln ") ") (1994), which includes a summary of known ADELAIDE graphite occurrences. While early discoveries were the result of surface observations, most deposits are highly conductive and their extent below shallow Figure 7 Graphite deposits and occurrences on cover is effectively mapped using airborne and Eyre Peninsula. ground electrical geophysical methods (Barrett and Dentith 2003). Graphite content and quality are assessed by drilling, usually a combination of rotary air blast, aircore, reverse circulation when imports of graphite from Sri Lanka and India (RC) and diamond core. Structural complexity were restricted during World War I. Minor graphite production from the Uley and Koppio mines took of individual deposits is a factor in the amount place between 1928 and 1951 to supplement of core drilling required for resource estimation. Australian requirements for graphite in steelmaking, Throughout the region, thick regolith is widespread, when imports from Sri Lanka and Madagascar were predominantly as weathered bedrock but also as halted during World War II (Valentine 1994). Historic thin cover of unconsolidated aeolian and fluvial production of a few thousand tonnes has come sediments. Deeply weathered bedrock can provide largely from the Uley graphite mine, which has an advantage in low-cost open pit excavation with been revived on two occasions. Market demand and little or no requirement for blasting in the upper prices for natural graphite, however, have, to date, 30–100 m of orebodies. The variable effects of not been sustained at sufficiently high levels to justify weathering, however, need to be assessed along the cost of extraction and , despite the with other factors affecting graphite recovery, and confirmation of substantial resources. the grade and quality of the graphite product.

A dramatic increase in the price for graphite during 2010–12 sparked renewed interest in graphite Regional geology exploration. The latter price rise was due to strong Graphite mineralisation on Eyre Peninsula occurs as demand for graphite in steelmaking, restructure disseminated flake graphite in late Sleaford of Chinese graphite mines that restricted output Complex granulite formed during the Sleaford

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Table 3 Resource estimates (JORC) for graphite deposits on Eyre Peninsula at June 2017 Deposit Mineral resources* Million tonnes Grade Contained graphite Cutoff (Mt) (% TGC) (t) (% TGC) Campoona Shaft (Archer Exploration 2014) Measured 0.339 14.8 50,000 Indicated 1.056 12.7 134,000 Inferred 0.837 10.7 89,000 Total 2.23 12.3 273,000 >5 Kookaburra Gully (Lincoln Minerals 2017a) Measured 0.50 12.3 61,000 Indicated 1.65 10.8 178,000 Inferred 0.78 12.3 96,000 Total 2.94 11.4 335,000 >2 Koppio (Lincoln Minerals 2015) Inferred (D1) 1.85 9.8 180,000 5 Inferred (D2) 1.21 3.2 38,000 2 Total 3.06 7.2 218,000 >2 Oakdale (Oakdale 2015) Indicated 2.69 4.7 126,000 Inferred 2.96 4.6 136,000 Oakdale East (Oakdale 2015) Inferred 0.67 5.1 34,000 Total 6.31 4.7 296,000 3 Siviour (Renascor Resources 2017a) Indicated 51.8 8.1 4,200,000 Inferred 28.8 7.6 2,200,000 Total 80.6 7.9 6,400,000 3 Uley – Main Road deposit / Pit 2 Measured 0.36 17.1 60,000 (Valence Industries 2015) Indicated 2.75 11.4 310,000 Inferred 1.44 10.6 150,000 Total 4.54 11.6 520,000 3.5 Wilclo South (Monax Mining 2013) Inferred 6.38 8.8 550,000 Total 6.38 8.8 550,000 >5 Grand total 106.06 3–17% 8,592,000 2–5% * Mineral resources data rounded down to nearest 1,000 t, and one decimal place for grade.

Surface area 2010) affected Paleoproterozoic rocks forming a north–south belt of tightly folded metasedimentary rocks adjacent to the Kalinjala Mylonite Zone Crystallinity (Fig. 7). Flake graphite deposits within this belt are Porosity hosted by Hutchison Group metasedimentary rocks, originally deposited as marine sand and silty clay, with carbonate and banded iron formation. Carbon δ13C values for graphite from the Uley and Koppio mines cluster around –25‰ (Taylor and Berry 1990). This is consistent with carbon derived Purity from an organic sedimentary source, principally Particle size algal or bacterial remains that accumulated during times of relatively low detrital or chemical sediment input. The organic matter was converted to graphite Particle shape during high-grade metamorphism. Graphite distribution is essentially stratigraphically controlled, Figure 8 Physical factors, intrinsic to individual deposits, that influence market suitability. with minor remobilisation within shear zones.

Deposits and occurrences Uley mine Orogeny (c. 2450 Ma), and in Paleoproterozoic Uley graphite mine was worked initially in 1928–29 metasedimentary rocks recrystallised at high and again in 1941–45 and 1990–93. Re-opening metamorphic grade during the 1730–1690 Ma the Uley mine in the early 1990s was in response to Kimban Orogeny. Peak metamorphic conditions of increasing price for refractory-grade flake graphite. 8–9 kbar and 820–850 °C (Dutch, Hand and Kelsey The price dropped sharply in 1992 when China

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entered the global graphite market with access 564000 to local, large resources and the support of a ML 5561 ML 5562 rapidly expanding local steel industry. Most recent Tailings pond operations to restart the Uley mine in 2015, by Valence Industries Limited, were suspended in early Uley Mine 2016 pending modifications to the metallurgical (abandoned) circuit; attempts to raise the necessary capital 500 failed and the company was placed in voluntary cross-section 6149000 administration in July 2016. Fig. 10

1750Stockpile Waste Disseminated crystalline flake graphite, 0.1–2 mm 3000 1750 Plant diameter, is present in biotite–quartz schist and Stockpile Uley Pit 2 quartz–feldspar–biotite ± garnet gneiss, equated (commenced) with Hutchison Group, metamorphosed at upper

1750 1750 amphibolite to lower granulite facies. Ore zones are 5500 500 1750 3000 4250 graphitic lenses typically grading >6% Cg, which are up to 12 m thick and tightly folded. Open-cut 4250 3000 mining during the 1990s was on the hinge of a 6750 broad anticlinorium that plunges shallowly to the 5500 4250 3000 1750 3000 north-northeast (Fig. 9). Graphitic layers are locally 6750

5500 thickened in asymmetric, tight to isoclinal, upright RL 66 1250 to overturned mesofolds, commonly with shearing Site along the synclinal axes (Fig. 10). Weathering of office 6148000 the ore zone extends to at least 50 m depth; within RL 67

3000 the weathered zone, graphite-bearing biotite schist 1750 500 is mostly altered to clay with variable iron oxide content and residual primary quartz. The upper 1750 15 m is dominated by kaolinite with secondary

3000 patches of carbonate that become aggregated 4250 5500 to form a 0.5–3.0 m thick hardpan directly 0 500 above the watertable. The patches of dominantly METRES cement, present throughout the vadose SIROTEM conductivity zone and forming the extensive hardpan, result Calcarenite dunefield response (m V/A) from precipitation of calcium remobilised from Thin sandy soil with ironstone Mineral lease ML gravel over weathered calcarenite dunes, which form a thin surficial cover Proterozoic bedrock Retention lease RL across the site. At depths below ~15 m, kaolinite 20 -4947021 and nontronite clays predominate with remnant Figure 9 Uley graphite mine area showing contours of patches of weathered biotite (Keeling, Raven and electrical conductivity (SIROTEM ground survey) outlining Gates 2000). Graphite recovery by flotation is more subsurface extent of graphite mineralisation. effective, in terms of high product grade and coarse particle size, for ore extracted from below the zone of secondary carbonate cement (Keeling 2000). Distribution of coarse flake graphite (>250 µm) W E is irregular, but occurs particularly at the margins Elevation (m AHD) Regolith units MD 103 MD 202 MD 106 MD 315 of pegmatitic leucosomes, formed by localised 90 MD 210 Calcarenite Soil zone melting, and in the hinge zone of late-stage folds. Carbonate zone Fine-grained graphite (<150 µm) is dominant in 70 Kaolin/ the upper section of the weathered profile and in Fe oxide/ nontronite graphitic shear zones. Uley graphite ore can be 50 zone processed by conventional flotation to give products with 91–95% Cg in various size ranges from 30 Fresh >500 µm through to 45–75 µm (McNally 1997). rock

10 Uley is one deposit in a broad zone of graphite 0 50 mineralisation on southern Eyre Peninsula termed METRES Calcarenite Amphibolite Graphite schist the Mikkira Graphite Province (Fig. 7). The province Drillhole Schist/gneiss C)g(>6% was outlined by CRA Exploration in the 1980s 204947-022 using airborne electromagnetic (EM) methods Figure 10 Interpreted geological cross-section below the with follow-up drilling to confirm graphite as the open cut at Uley main pit.

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cause of several large conductive anomalies. The where the watertable is ~40 m below ground SIROTEM ground EM technique was effective at Uley surface. The ore zone is typically 15–20 m wide to map the continuation of subsurface graphitic with graphite grading 5–35% Cg. Discontinuous units (Fig. 9), leading to discovery of high-grade lenses of dolomitic marble underlie portions of the extensions to the ore zone, ~0.5 km south of graphitic schist, which is broadly intercalated with the existing workings (Barrett and Dentith 2003). quartz–biotite schist and biotite–quartz–feldspar The original open cut was later abandoned and gneiss with minor interlayered amphibolite. Garnet, flooded to serve as water storage for the refurbished sillimanite and are present in minor to graphite treatment plant. A new pit, Main Road Pit trace amounts. or Uley Pit 2, was commenced in 2015 on a high- grade extension on the eastern limb of the anticline. The graphitic lenses extend along strike for At this site the fold limb is interpreted as overturned >500 m and are interpreted as tightly folded layers to recumbent, with tightly folded graphitic layers of an antiformal structure that plunges south- in an overall ~30° dip west-northwesterly. Total graphite resources to ~100 m depth are 4.54 Mt at southwesterly. An airborne EM survey, flown in 2012 11.6% TGC for 520,000 t of contained graphite at for Lincoln Minerals, shows conductive structures cutoff grade 3.5% TGC (Table 3). that continue to the southwest, with repetition of highly conductive zones at the Kookaburra Gully Extended prospect (Fig. 11). Aircore and RC drilling Koppio mine during early 2017 confirmed extensive graphite Koppio graphite mine, 32 km north of Port Lincoln, mineralisation of variable grade and thickness was worked in the 1940s with 100 t mined from below 2–30 m alluvium and weathered bedrock underground workings and trucked to Port Lincoln cover (Lincoln Minerals 2017). for processing. The ore zone is a series of steeply dipping (60–75° ESE) lenses of graphitic schist of Preliminary metallurgy on surface trench and aircore aggregate thickness 10–30 m within Hutchison samples from Kookaburra Gully deposit indicate Group metasediments. Aircore and RC drilling that a graphite concentrate with 93–97% Cg and during 2014 by Lincoln Minerals confirmed graphite flake size 20–150 µm diameter can be recovered over a strike length of >570 m and extending from surface to at least 100 m depth. The inferred resource for a nominal cutoff grade of 5% TGC is 1.85 Mt at 9.8% TGC for 180,000 t of contained graphite. Historic flotation and gravity separation 135°52'E 135°53'E 135°54'E 135°55'E tests on representative ore taken from a drive at the base of a 12 m deep shaft reported only 12% of Ì Graphite deposit recovered graphite was >150 µm flake size grading 34°24'S Exploration target 90.0% C, which included 3.7% >500 µm (Gartrell Mineral Lease Ì and Blaskett 1943). EM Image (TConX) KOOKABURRA GULLY DEPOSIT High Low ML 6460 Kookaburra Gully deposit ROAD Graphite at Kookaburra Gully, 3 km north of Koppio mine, is hosted by high metamorphic grade schist 34°25'S and gneiss of Hutchison Group. Graphitic schist forms a series of lenses that strike NE–SW and dip

southeasterly at 40–50°, but locally steepen to 80°. PILLAWORTA Preliminary evaluation of the deposit was made by Kookaburra Gully Extended Ì KOPPIO MINE Pancontinental Mining Ltd in the 1980s, but not (HISTORIC) ") pursued due to the high proportion of <150 µm Koppio

flake graphite (Meares 1987). The project was 34°26'S revisited by Lincoln Minerals in 2012 following increase in the price for graphite and the possibility 0 1km of new markets (Lincoln Minerals 2012). Zone 53

The deposit is located in gently undulating topography of the Koppio Hills, with maximum ERD 204947-020 relief ~90 m. Bedrock is variably weathered, Figure 11 Kookaburra Gully and Koppio graphite depending on lithology and landscape position. deposits and associated electrical conductivity anomalies. Depth of weathering exceeds 30 m in the uplands (Modified from Lincoln Minerals 2017c)

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after grinding the ore to <600 µm followed by four graphite at depths of 26 to 55 m below surface. stages of flotation, cleaning and regrinding (Parsons Resource definition drilling by Renascor Resources Brinckerhoff 2015). Recovery of flake sizes >150 µm Limited, during 2015–17, delineated a tabular, varied between 2 and 24% at grades 93–98% Cg. mostly flat-lying, graphitic biotite–quartz–feldspar Drilling and trenching have outlined a resource of schist with abundant coarse flake graphite for a total 2.94 Mt at 11.4% TGC, at cutoff grade >2% TGC, resource of 80.6 Mt at 7.9% TGC, at cutoff grade containing 335,000 t of graphite. A mineral lease 3% TGC, containing 6.4 Mt of graphite (Table 3). (ML 6460) covering the Kookaburra Gully deposit The graphite ore zone averages 20 m thickness, at a was granted on 3 June 2016. depth of 10 to 25 m below surficial cover sediments and weathered calc-silicate bedrock capped by calcrete. The extent of graphite mineralisation was Siviour deposit, Arno Bay reassessed in early 2017 using a helicopter EM The Siviour graphite deposit is a well-defined EM survey to confirm the overall flat-lying shape of the conductor anomaly, elongated ~3 km W–E and orebody and to locate near-surface extensions to ~0.6 km wide, that was outlined during an EM mineralisation along strike (Renascor Resources survey flown in 2006–07 by Cameco Ltd in the 2017b; Fig. 12). search for uranium mineralisation. Follow-up drilling by Cameco included one cored hole, Metallurgical test work on drill core samples using a CRD0090, near the eastern extent of the conductor. conventional graphite flotation circuit gave graphite This intersected graphite mineralisation (Paxtons concentrates averaging 94% Cg, including recovery prospect) commencing at 67.7 m, but the graphite of a high proportion of coarse flake graphite (33% was not tested at the time. Subsequent analyses in >180 µm; Table 4; Renascor Resources 2017a). The 2014, on the core sample lodged with the South deposit is the largest coarse-grained, high-grade, Australia Drill Core Reference Library, returned flake graphite resource yet discovered on the Eyre 12.4 m at 8.1% Cg, with over 40% of the graphite Peninsula. concentrate having flake size >150 µm. In 2015 a drill traverse across the central portion of the EM anomaly intersected high-grade, coarse-flake

630000m E 634000m E 630000m E 634000m E

Buckies prospect

6246000m N CRD0090 Indicated Resource Paxtons prospect EM line 1390

6242000m N

EM Conductivity -20 m EM Conductivity -40 m

Buckies Siviour Indicated Resource Paxtons

2.5 kms


Figure 12 Airborne EM conductivity anomalies at depth slices 20 m and 40 m with interpreted subsurface extent of graphite mineralisation on EM line 1390, Siviour deposit. (Modified from Renascor Resources 2017b)

MESA Journal 84 2017 – Issue 3 37 Exploration

Table 4 Siviour deposit flake graphite size distribution targets in the region returned thick intersections Flake category Particle size range Distribution (%) of weathered graphitic schist, which subsequently (µm) became a focus of exploration across the company’s Jumbo >300 8 tenements. Coarse 180–300 25 Medium 150–180 15 Sugarloaf prospect. At Sugarloaf, existing Fine 75–150 39 airborne EM and drillhole data were reinterpreted, Very fine (amorphous) <75 13 in light of graphitic carbon analyses on recently Source: Renascor Resources (2017a). acquired drill samples. A geological target, with potential for 40–70 Mt grading 10–12% graphite, was developed based on a tight, upright antiformal Oakdale deposit structural model with steeply dipping limbs in Oakdale graphite prospect is the only graphite which graphitic layers average 40 m thickness over resource reliably associated with Neoarchean 2.5–4 km strike length, along a NE–SW-trending (c. 2540 Ma) rocks on the Eyre Peninsula. Graphite fold axis. The graphitic are interlayered was noted in shallow drilling by BHP Billiton in 2001 with banded iron formation and chloritic schist while investigating magnetic anomalies associated and gneiss. The schists are deeply weathered to with mafic volcanics prospective for volcanic- ~80 m, coinciding with the present-day watertable. hosted massive sulfide mineralisation. Subsequent Subsequent investigations, during 2011–12, showed diamond drilling on a strong, ground EM conductor the graphite content is up to 30%, but is present confirmed the high conductance was due to thick mostly as very fine grained aggregates of variably intervals of graphite and sulfide, modelled as dipping at 50° to the southwest. Graphitic schist and gneiss are intercalated over a 200 m wide zone of lower granulite facies, feldspar–sillimanite–quartz– 136°20'E Kimba ") 136°30'E pyrrhotite gneiss and marble, with calc-silicates and

interbedded mafic volcanic rocks. The graphitic 33°10'S zones typically have a high pyrrhotite content, and HIGHWAY EYRE WILCLO are flanked by komatiite. BALUMBAH

Projection of the graphitic zone, up dip, outlined

areas of near-surface graphite at sites designated LACROMA as Oakdale and Oakdale East. These were tested WILCLO SOUTH by shallow aircore and diamond drilling. Oakdale FRANCIS

deposit is up to 500 m wide and extends along 33°20'S strike for 1.5 km. A combined resource of 6.31 Mt CUT SNAKE at 4.7% TGC, containing 296,000 t of graphite CLEVE was established within mostly weathered bedrock, below ~20 m of Cenozoic sedimentary cover. The STANLEYS graphitic saprolite, or oxidised zone, is a maximum 30–40 m in thickness, clay-rich and can be mined SUGARLOAF HILL ARGENT ROAD without blasting or primary crushing. Preliminary SUGARLOAF

metallurgy on ore from the saprolite zone yielded 33°30'S a high proportion (~60%) of coarse to fine flake CAMPOONA SHAFT graphite >75 µm, including ~1% jumbo-sized CAMPOONA CENTRAL flakes >425 µm (Oakdale Resources 2015). Clay (kaolinite and nontronite) coating and intercalated

with graphite can be reduced by desliming to MOUNT SHANNAN remove the <15 µm fraction, followed by secondary grinding/attritioning and flotation, to give a product 0 5 10 km

with >90% Cg. Further upgrading to >98% TGC is 33°40'S Zone 53 BIRDSEYE Cleve HIGHWAY achievable with acid treatment. The graphite product ") has a high proportion of thin flakes, mostly <30 µm ERD 204947-014 thick, with many flakes only 3–6 µm in thickness. Major graphite deposit ") Locality Graphite occurrence Highway Untested graphite occurrence Secondary road Cleve–Kimba district Graphite trend Minor road Numerous graphite occurrences exist throughout Railway the Cleve–Kimba district (Fig. 13). Drilling by Figure 13 Graphite deposits and occurrences in the Archer Exploration Limited in 2008 on copper–gold Cleve–Kimba district. (After Archer Exploration 2016)

38 MESA Journal 84 2017 – Issue 3 Graphite

crystalline carbon arranged in a matted and porous grade, fine-grained crystalline graphite, based structure with poor electrical conducting properties. initially on development of resources at Campoona The mineralogy is dominantly silica and graphite Shaft (Archer Exploration 2015). with subordinate clay, chlorite, biotite and trace levels of sulfur from weathered sulfide. The graphite Wilclo South prospect. Historical observations appears to have low commercial value but the of graphite occurrence and previous drillhole data potential large size of the deposit and its unusual were used by Monax Mining Limited, together with properties raised the possibility for use as a soil regional airborne EM data, to identify anomalies conditioner on sandy soils. Preliminary investigations prospective for high-grade graphite. Several targets show that Sugarloaf graphite, in raw or modified were identified during 2012, which included the form, improves soil wettability and water retention, Wilclo South anomaly in probable Hutchison Group. and is a source of leachable macronutrients (Ca, Evidence of graphite was located in surface outcrop Mg, K, S, P) and micronutrients (B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, and depth continuity was tested by RC drilling, which Zn) required for plant growth (Archer Exploration confirmed graphitic schist with ~15% TGC over 8.5 2015). and 15 m intervals. A ground EM survey (NanoTEM method) with 20 m loop and 10 m stations was Campoona Shaft deposit. The Campoona used to map the extent and attitude of subsurface Shaft deposit is a zone of steeply dipping graphitic conductors. The presence of a continuous zone of schist layers hosted in upper amphibolite facies shallow, easterly dipping conductors was identified paragneiss, equated with Mount Shannan Iron over 2 km strike length. Inferred resources of Formation within the Hutchison Group. The near- 6.38 Mt at 8.8% TGC were outlined in a program surface graphitic zone is 10–40 m true width, of 79 RC drill holes, to a maximum depth 120 m, extends to beyond 100 m depth, and is a minimum and 2 diamond core holes (Monax Mining 2013). 560 m in length. The zone is a composite of one A zone ~70 m thick with up to seven individual thick tabular graphite schist unit and five thinner layers of graphitic quartz– schist, 1–17 m in graphitic layers that strike 045°and dip 85° thickness (av. 3.7 m) and dipping 20–30° easterly northwest. Total resources of 2.23 Mt at 12.3% was traced over a strike length of ~1.4 km. The TGC, at cutoff grade 5% TGC, provide 273,000 graphitic units are interlayered with quartz–feldspar t of graphite contained within a zone extending gneiss and minor amphibolite above a footwall from the surface to 150 m depth. The graphitic of dominantly amphibolite. Tight folding, reverse host rocks are highly weathered to 50–60 m faulting and variable depth of oxidation are depth with kaolinite and quartz as the principal evident in drill samples. Coarse-grained graphite minerals. Effects of weathering extend to is present in the deposit with ~30% of flake sizes at least 100 m. Preliminary metallurgy, by Archer >180 µm, including ~5% with flake size >425 µm. Exploration, on graphite from the highly weathered The prospect was included with the sale of the zone favours conventional fine-grinding and exploration tenement to Archer Exploration in July flotation to liberate a mostly fine-grained graphite 2014. product, <75 µm diameter, that is well-crystalline and can be separated at high grades of 95% to 99% Cg without acid treatment (Archer Exploration Conclusion 2013). Acid treatment, using dilute , yields a product with >99% Cg. Recent mineral exploration in South Australia has confirmed that various styles of high-grade graphite Central Campoona and Lacroma prospects. mineralisation are broadly distributed across the Central Campoona is located 2 km southwest Eyre Peninsula. The discovery, in 2015, of the Siviour of Campoona Shaft and is a 1.4 km linear zone graphite deposit highlights the potential for further of steeply dipping pods of graphitic schist, offset discovery of globally significant graphite resources by faults. One pod, ~200 m long, was tested by in the region and the role of airborne EM as an drilling to establish an inferred resource of 0.5 Mt effective exploration approach in locating and at 11.6% TGC. The graphite ore characteristics are delineating shallow deposits. similar to ore from the Campoona Shaft deposit. Lacroma prospect is 30 km north-northwest of Graphitic carbon markets are experiencing Campoona Shaft and on a north–south linear EM major change, driven by slowing global steel anomaly that extends for ~12 km. Drill intersections production, rapid growth in demand for batteries, of up to 60 m of graphitic schist grading 6.8% and uncertainties around the adoption of TGC provided graphite samples with similar emerging technologies. Evolving markets offer new characteristics also to graphite ore from Campoona opportunities for natural graphite, but with increased Shaft. These and other graphite prospects in the competition from synthetic graphite and alternative district are regarded as possible satellite sources for technologies. Participation in growth markets will be a proposed processing facility to produce high- complex and dynamic. Large high-grade resources

MESA Journal 84 2017 – Issue 3 39 Exploration

of flake graphite with low mining costs and good Brown HYL 1908. Record of the mines of South Australia. 4th infrastructure are more likely to be successfully edn. Government Printer, Adelaide. developed, although smaller deposits with special Buseck PR and Huang BJ 1985. Conversion of carbonaceous properties could find a market niche. Careful study material to graphite during metamorphism. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 49:2,003–2,016. of the characteristics of individual graphite deposits will assist in determining whether metallurgical Chung DDL 1987. Exfoliation of graphite. Journal of 22:4,190–4,198. options and processes can deliver products that are preferred in the marketplace, offer flexibility across Dutch RA, Hand M and Kelsey DE 2010. Unravelling the tectonothermal of reworked Archean granulite various markets, or might justify further processing facies metapelites using in situ geochronology: an for higher value products with improved returns. example from the Gawler Craton, Australia. Journal of Metamorphic Geology 28:239–316.

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Recent geological information on graphite deposits Fetherston JM 2015. Graphite in Western Australia, Mineral was compiled from public company releases, in Resources Bulletin 26. Geological Survey of Western particular reports and presentations by J Parker Australia, Perth. (Lincoln Minerals), G Anderson (Archer Exploration), Gartrell HW and Blaskett KS 1943. Graphite ore from section G Ferris (Monax Mining), J Lynch (Oakdale 35, hundred of Koppio. Mining Review 76:42–47. Department of Mines, South Australia, Adelaide. Resources) and D Christensen (Renascor Resources). The paper was improved with constructive feedback Ghilotti D 2016. Graphite – the only way is up. Industrial Minerals, December 2016 – January 2017, pp. 26–31. provided by Marc Twining. Joho F, Rycart B, Blome A, Novak P, Wilhelm H and Spahr ME 2001. Relationship between surface properties, pore structure and first-cycle charge loss of graphite as negative References in lithium-ion batteries. Journal of Power Sources AMG Graphite 2015. Investor Day - AMG graphite 97–98:78–82. presentation - June 2015. AMG, United States, viewed July 2017, . Keeling JL 2000. Uley graphite – a world-class resource. MESA Journal 18:6–11. Department of Primary Industries and An SJ, Li J, Daniel C, Mohanty D, Nagpure S and Wood DL Resources South Australia, Adelaide. 2016. The state of understanding of the lithium-ion- battery graphite solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) and its Keeling JL, Raven MD and Gates WP 2000. Geology and relationship to formation cycling. Carbon 105:52–76. characterization of two hydrothermal nontronites from weathered metamorphic rocks at Uley graphite mine, Archer Exploration Limited 2013. Exceptional bulk flotation South Australia. Clays and Clay Minerals 48:537–548. results for Campoona graphite, ASX release 9 August 2013. Archer Exploration, viewed July 2017, . International Conference on Molten Slags, Fluxes & Salts, Symposia Series S36. The South African Institute of Mining Archer Exploration Limited 2014. Mineral resources for Central and Metallurgy, Johannesburg, pp. 309–319. Campoona graphite deposit, ASX release 18 February 2014. Archer Exploration, viewed July 2017, . 19 March 2012. Lincoln Minerals, viewed July 2017, . annual report 2015. Archer Exploration, viewed July 2017, . for second Lincoln deposit in SA’s Eyre Peninsula lifts total inventory by >50% in this world-class province, ASX Archer Exploration Limited 2016. New ELA extends carbon announcement 13 July 2015. Lincoln Minerals, viewed July and graphite zones, ASX release 29 January 2016. 2017, . NewTenement.pdf>. Lincoln Minerals Limited 2017a. Improved graphite mineral Barrett D and Dentith M 2003. Geophysical exploration resource status at Kookaburra Gully on South Australia’s for graphite at Uley, South Australia. In M Dentith ed., Eyre Peninsula, ASX announcement 17 May 2017. Lincoln Geophysical signatures of South Australian mineral Minerals, viewed July 2017, .

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Luque FJ, Ortega L, Barrenechea JF, Millward D, Beyssac O Schodde R 2016. What to look for when making a graphite and Huizenga J-M 2009. Deposition of highly crystalline investment, presentation for Battery Metals Summit, graphite from moderate-temperature fluids. Geology November 2016, London. MinEx Consulting, viewed 37:275–278. July 2017, . 5:16–18. Department of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia, Adelaide. Spencer R and Hill L 2016. A flake’s change in cell: quantifying graphite demand, Canaccord Genuity Speciality Meares RMD 1987. Pancontinental Mining Ltd EL 1142, Minerals and Metals report. Volt Resources, viewed annual report for the period 27 May 1986 to 26 May July 2017, . and Energy, South Australia, Adelaide. Stein V and Aneziris CG 2014. Low-carbon carbon-bonded Mitchell CJ 1993. Industrial Minerals Laboratory manual: Flake alumina refractories for functional components in steel graphite, Technical Report WG/92/30. British Geological technology. Journal of Ceramic Science and Technology Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham. 5:115–124.

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Renascor Resources Limited 2017b. EM advances world-class Australian graphite project, ASX release 11 July 2017. Renascor Resources, viewed July 2017, . FURTHER INFORMATION

Sader JA, Grave J, Janke L and Hall L 2015. In-depth study John Keeling on carbon speciation focussed on graphite. Symposium [email protected] on Strategic and Critical Materials Proceedings, November +61 8 8463 3135 13-14, 2015, Victoria, British Columbia, Geological Survey

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