TORONTO, ON / ACCESSWIRE / September 7, 2021 / Gratomic Inc. ("Gratomic", "GRAT" or the "Company") (TSX-V:GRAT) (OTCQX:CBULF) (Frankfurt:CB82) announces that the Company has commenced an independent Prefeasibility Study ("PFS"), alongside providing an operational update on the commissioning progress currently underway at the Company's flagship Aukam Vein Graphite Project in Namibia. The PFS has been undertaken by Process Research Ortech Inc., based out of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. The PFS to date has been able to independently verify that Aukam Graphite is capable of being upgraded without any chemical or heat treatment to a grade of 99.38% Cg. Gratomic has also begun construction and extensive testing on Gratomic TM coin cell batteries using graphite sourced from the lower adit of the Aukam graphite project and prepared by Ortech to 99.81% Cg. The Company will be assisted by Robert Rice, the inventor and provisional patent-owner of the air-classification system that is being used in conducting the non-chemical refining process that is intended to upgrade the graphite concentrate from 99.38 to 99.98 %Cg for the purpose of achieving battery grade material. David Salari has been brought on board alongside Rice in order to assist the Company's completion of the PFS and assist the company in final preparation of the refining circuit.
"Day after day our team at Aukam shows their resilience and determination towards finalizing the processing plant. I am also very happy with the support we continue to obtain from our key partners. The project development continues as planned," said Armando Farhate, COO and Head of Graphite Marketing and Sales
The Company chose to prioritize the completion of a PFS over a preliminary economic analysis based on the high level of confidence already established in the Aukam project. This confidence is instilled based on the high level of engineering and current commissioning underway. This is further substantiated by the report entitled "Technical Report on the Aukam Graphite Deposit, Bethanie District, Karas Region, Namibia" dated September 12, 2016 and prepared by Roger Moss, Ph. D, P. Geo, and the current infill drilling program at the Aukam Mine site. The successful completion of the PFS will serve as an economic basis to assure shareholders and the public of the merits, derived from real data, of the Aukam Graphite Project. The Company intends to release the PFS in late 2021 and a maiden National Instrument (NI) 43-101 resource estimate in Q1 2022.
The drilling program has continued on schedule, with the team working consistently to achieve reliable results as quickly as possible. The drilling is entering a second phase and is being carried out by the Namibian contracting company Hammerstein Mining and Drilling CC. While the Company is unable to share any preliminary results from the drilling progress at this time, it is confident in the exceptional work put in by the geological team and about the detailed data that will provide invaluable insight into the future of the project. The Company is able to share that the Aukam geological team has identified several new areas of notable interest based upon a recently completed TDEM (Time Domain Electromagnetics) survey by Gregory Symons Geophysics and are in the process of exploring the delineated EM (Electromagnetic) conductors within the immediate vicinity of the historical mine site.
Arno Brand, CEO and President, stated "We continue to serve our shareholders in the best way we can by delivering and executing against our objectives and deliverables. The Gratomic team has been working around the clock to make sure that we are able to transition to the next Phase of commissioning within the month of September. Our hard work has ultimately resulted in one of the most successful upgrades of graphite material to a grade of 99.83% Cg without any acid treatment that management has ever witnessed, these results are astonishing and exceeded our initial expectations.
The Company will engage the services of Robert Rice, who will assist the project as a consultant. Rice is the inventor and provisional patent owner of the air classification system Gratomic will utilize to generate extremely high-quality graphite while avoiding acid leaching and other environmentally damaging processes other graphite projects are forced to use.
Gratomic selected Process Research Ortech Inc. due to a variety of factors. The key benefit of working with Ortech stems from their 70 years of experience working in the mining, metallurgical, recycling and chemical industries, as well as the internationally recognized and renowned service and facilities they provide. Process Research Ortech Inc. provides a variety of technology services to suit their clients' needs, including pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, electrometallurgy and mineral processing. Ortech Inc. being based out of Mississauga, Ontario, ensures that Gratomic is able to contact and cooperate with Ortech at all essential points of this crucial testing phase. The Company has engaged the services of Ortech in completing the technical testing and classification of graphite sourced from the Aukam graphite project for the purposes of moving towards a completed PFS. Ortech has completed the processing of a bulk sample. Further purifying through to standard battery grade (D50) 250kg of graphite.
Air classification has three very distinct benefits over traditional graphite milling. Firstly, air classification can greatly reduce the amount of waste material that otherwise would be processed in the anode material classification and shaping. Secondly, the higher grade of material once classified reduces the environmental impact by not requiring lengthy milling and grinding, thus reducing the energy needed. Thirdly, the economics of air classification is realized by reduced waste material, meaning less waste material being processed and more finished material per hour being produced. Testing on the Aukam graphite has shown real possibilities for advanced processing without the need for traditional milling. Testing air classification at both ends of the milling process provides strong economic and environmental advancements.
Processing Plant Update - In Order of Operation
Expanding on the recent progress made at the Aukam project, the crushing circuit, after undergoing its dry commissioning stage, is being upgraded by means of adding a vibrating feeder unit, which is being installed at the bottom of the feed bin. A cleat conveyor will connect it to the material silo, which will feed the rod mill. The crushing circuit began dry commissioning as per our press release dated March 29th and has been successfully tested in preparation for stage C4 ("Wet Commissioning").
Essential equipment has been continually arriving on-site, with the 10-meter-wide Material Thickener being a highlight. Due to its size, it had to be shipped disassembled, after a full overhaul which included the addition of a brand-new hydraulic rake lifting device, performed by Zimpro Engineering. The structural foundation assembly of the thickener tank has been completed, with workers now assembling the floor, tank walls and catwalk assembly. The three cyclones, which make the connection between the rod mill and the material thickener tank, are installed and ready for operation.
Another sizeable installation has just been finished, a group of three water dams, measuring 2x 100 m3 and 1 x 400 m3, which compose the water recycling circuit along with the already completed settling tank and filtration station designed to recycle 95% of the water used on the project.
The three thirty-nine-foot-tall vertical flotation columns have been successfully erected, along with three mixing tanks. The Company has ordered an additional nine flotation columns alongside twelve additional mixing tanks. Commissioning will not be impacted by the inclusion of this added equipment and will continue on schedule. This will allow an increased production flow-rate and ensure the plant is able to achieve the 99.38% Cg which Ortech was able to accomplish through its testing cycles, utilizing flotation.
Final assembly and testing of the product thickener tank has been completed, and is in the process of final hook-ups to the vertical flotation columns and the press filter. As stated in our press release dated April 13th, installation and assembly of the press filter and rotary dryer was successfully completed. The installation of the electrical equipment to these two components has been completed and operational testing has been successful up to stage C3 ("No Load/Dry Commissioning").
Following the receipt of the test results from Ortech, the Company was able to confirm the order for two air classification systems, which will be included at different stages of the processing plant after wet commissioning has been completed. The infrastructure has already been prepared, allowing for an expedited assembly process, which is already comprised in the general construction schedule.
Gratomic's Engineering team has concluded the design of warehouses, workshops, laboratories and change houses that will compose the site infrastructure, and 30 container units have been delivered to Aukam in order to be adapted and assembled together, giving shape to these buildings. There is an extensive list of other infrastructure items being assembled and put into place, including:
- Assembly of the process pumps recently received
- Final construction of the substation room and the control room, including a 5,000-litre drinking water tank that will lay at the roof of the control room
- Assembly of the electric control panels
- Construction of seven additional housing units at the managers' camp
- Expansion of the sewage system for the manager's camp
- Drilling of two additional water boreholes, which will support both the Gratomic site and the farmland owner
Gratomic wishes to emphasize that no Preliminary Economic Analysis, Preliminary Feasibility Study or Feasibility Study has been completed to support any level of production. In fact, no mineral resources let alone mineral reserves demonstrating economic viability and technical feasibility, have been delineated on the Aukam property.
The Company is working towards completing a Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) on the Aukam Processing plant. The study, its recommendations, and their subsequent implementation, will provide conclusions and recommendation at a PFS level of comfort relating to the scale up of the existing processing plant to a commercial scale processing facility capable of producing the desired concentrate grades and production rates.
Gratomic wishes to emphasize that the supply of graphite is conditional on Gratomic being able to bring the Aukam project into a production phase, and for any graphite being produced to meet certain technical and mineralization requirements. Gratomic continues to move its business towards production and as part of its business plan, expects to file a National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects resource estimate in Q1 2022.
No mineral resources, let alone mineral reserves demonstrating economic viability and technical feasibility, have been delineated on the Aukam Property. The Company is not in a position to demonstrate or disclose any capital and/or operating costs that may be associated with the processing plant until the PFS is completed.
The Company advises that it has not based its production decision on even the existence of mineral resources let alone on a PFS or feasibility study of mineral reserves, demonstrating economic and technical viability, and, as a result, there may be an increased uncertainty of achieving any particular level of recovery of minerals or the cost of such recovery, including increased risks associated with developing a commercially mineable deposit.
Historically, such projects have a much higher risk of economic and technical failure. There is no guarantee that production will begin as anticipated or at all or that anticipated production costs will be achieved.
Failure to commence production would have a material adverse impact on the Company's ability to generate revenue and cash flow to fund operations. Failure to achieve the anticipated production costs would have a material adverse impact on the Company's cash flow and future profitability.
Steve Gray, P. Geo. has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this press release and is a "Qualified Person" as defined by National Instrument 43-101 - Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.
Nico Scholtz is a consulting geologist and has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this news release. Mr. Scholtz is a registered Professional Natural Scientist with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (Pr. Sci. Nat. No. 400299/07). Mr. Scholtz has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this press release and is the Company's "Qualified Person" as defined by National Instrument 43-101 - Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.
Gratomic is focused on introducing an exceptional anode material to the global electric vehicle and energy storage supply chains. True to its roots as an exploration and mining company, Gratomic aims to achieve full operational capabilities in 2021 on its Aukam Graphite Project and continues to diversify its assets into a multi-national company with various projects globally. Large quantities of its naturally high-quality vein graphite have been shipped for testing to confirm its viability as an anode material. Gratomic is confident that the results will provide a unique competitive advantage in its desired target markets.
The Company's recent collaboration agreement with Forge Nano has advanced the developments on its graphite finalization phase for the micronization, spheronization, and the patented ALD coating of its Aukam vein graphite for use in lithium-ion batteries. Forge Nano is a global leader in surface engineering and precision nano-coating technology, using Atomic Layer Deposition.
GRAT has two outstanding off-take purchase agreements with TODAQ and Phu Sumika with contract fulfillment slated to begin in 2021. Gratomic plans to deliver mine-to-market traceability through its partnership with deeptech company TODAQ by providing documented tracking on all graphite generated at its flagship Aukam Graphite Project.
For more information: visit the website at www.gratomic.ca or contact:
Arno Brand at [email protected] or 416 561-4095
Subscribe at gratomic.ca/contact/ to be added to our email list.
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Forward Looking Statements:
This news release contains forward-looking statements, which relate to future events or future performance and reflect management's current expectations and assumptions. Such forward-looking statements reflect management's current beliefs and are based on assumptions made by and information currently available to the Company. Investors are cautioned that these forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees and are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause future results to differ materially from those expected. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date hereof and, except as required under applicable securities legislation, the Company does not assume any obligation to update or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances. All of the forward-looking statements made in this press release are qualified by these cautionary statements and by those made in our filings with SEDAR in Canada (available at www.sedar.com)
SOURCE: Gratomic Inc.