Battery Metals

Elcora Resources, soon to be known as Graphene Corp., has a lot on its plate, but that’s to be expected from a company that’s aiming for vertical integration. Graphite Investing News spoke with President and CEO Troy Grant for an update.

Elcora Resources: Graphene from Sri Lankan Graphite

When Graphite Investing News (GIN) last checked in with Nova Scotia-based Elcora Resources (TSXV:ERA), the company was garnering a lot of attention following positive comments from Jack Lifton, founding principal of Technology Metals Research.

Lifton was pleased with the fact that the company is pursuing vertical integration, and commented that it has “taken ownership or control of several existing Sri Lankan high grade deposits,” and has plans to build a graphite processing operation for its mined material, as well as for “off-takes from other Sri Lankan deposits and for tolling.”

What that means, he said, is that Elcora “is a Integrated Graphite ‘Company’, not just a mine.”

Since that time, however, it’s become clear that Elcora plans to become not only more than just a mine, but also more than just a graphite company. In a news release published midway through October, the company announced plans to change its name to Graphene Corp. and said its focus moving forward will be on becoming “a vertically integrated carbon company focused on high end expandable graphite and graphene.”

To learn more about that announcement, GIN got in touch with Troy Grant, president and CEO of Elcora. He was able to explain what the news means for the company and for investors.

Why graphene?

There are a lot of graphite companies out there, and most of them aren’t focusing on graphene. So why did Elcora decide to do so?

Explaining, Grant said that in fact his company has always intended to get into graphene — it just had to find the right graphite. As mentioned, that graphite is in Sri Lanka. Elcora has a 40-percent equity interest in Sakura Graphite, which operates the Ragedara mine in that country.

It’s producing vein graphite, which according to Grant is “one of the best graphites … for the creation of graphene.” He added, “it’s 90 to 99 percent pure, therefore processing it to 99 percent is very inexpensive and doesn’t require an intense process. There is a greater likelihood of us protecting the flake size.”

A recent InvestorIntel interview with Dr. Ian Flint, chief operating officer at Elcora, sheds a little more light on those statements. In it, Dr. Flint states, “when you are making graphene, the idea is to peel off one layer of the graphite … but in order to do that you need a nice, flat crystal because if you bend or fold it, it means [the layers] don’t come off cleanly.”

Continuing, he notes, “if you have a bent or folded crystal, your recovery or conversion of the graphite to graphene can be very low. Whereas if it is flat, you can convert a lot more to graphene.”

Essentially, higher graphite purity leads to less intense processing, which ultimately results in a higher graphite-to-graphene conversion rate.

All about processing

In terms of how processing will take place, Elcora’s website states that it won’t be reinventing the wheel — it will be using known processing techniques.

That said, the company is taking a unique approach in that it is “developing or commercializing the processes that are already out there to client-specific needs,” as per Dr. Flint. That might sound like an odd plan given that the scalability of existing graphene processing techniques is often questioned, but he believes that “most of the technology used to make graphene is entirely scalable. It’s just a question of applying equipment development more than anything else.”

The plan is for Elcora’s development work to be done at a lab and processing facility that’s being constructed on site in Sri Lanka. The company also expects to use the facility to “test processes and equipment prior to the final designs of the graphene manufacturing plant.”

When constructed, that plant will, of course, produce graphene. As Grant explained, his company’s goal is “basically to work with end users” — specifically, “high-end users who already do work in the graphene space.” Ultimately he sees Elcora supplying those end users. As he said, “if they want 2,000 tonnes a year of graphene or 5,000 tonnes we want to be able to produce that for them.”

Steps moving forward

Summing up the direction Elcora will take moving forward, Dr. Flint said that Elcora’s secret “is not the processing into the graphene. It is bringing the graphite to the table.”

Investors can thus expect to see the company focus on its graphite in the near term. According to Grant, the company will be working on getting the Ragedara mine back up to its 1970 production level of 18,000 tonnes per year. Concurrently, of course, it will be working on the lab and processing facility and on plans for the graphene manufacturing plant.

Certainly a lot to focus on, but all in a day’s work for a vertically integrated company.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: Interviews conducted by the Investing News Network are edited for clarity. The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

Related reading:

Elcora Resources Jumps on Sri Lankan Vertical Integration Plans

Sri Lankan Graphite: A Major Opportunity Opens

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