Western Australia-based Hazer Group Ltd (ASX:HZR) has joined up with one of Australia’s leading mining infrastructure companies to take its innovative synthetic graphite technology to the next stage.
Hazer and Mineral Resources Limited (ASX:MIN) have signed an initial Under the non-binding Heads of Agreement, which they aim intend to upgrade to a binding Co-operation Agreement in the near future.
Under the terms of the agreement, Mineral Resources and Hazer will work to jointly develop a large- scale commercial synthetic graphite facility, initially targeted towards the production of at least 1,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of ultra-high purity graphite and capable of modular expansion to a nominal 10,000tpa.
Mineral Resources will fund the entire project across all required stages of scale-up and development, with Hazer proving technical assistance and obtaining royalties from revenue generated by the sale of graphite from the commercial facility(s).
Hazer Managing Director Geoff Pocock said Mineral Resources has been a significant shareholder and supporter of Hazer since its IPO, and is an ideal partner for this next stage of commercialisation towards high value synthetic graphite products.
Mineral Resources has an excellent track record in innovation and in delivering projects in accelerated timeframes. The company has substantial existing exposure to the battery industry to enable rapid market penetration.
Mr Pocock said the initial focus of the collaboration will be on a pilot scale facility with integrated purification capability, capable of producing 1tpa of ultra-high purity graphite suitable for high-end applications including batteries and electrodes. Initial commissioning of the pilot plant is estimated to occur in the middle of 2018.
He said that once both parties are satisfied with the design and performance of the pilot plant, Mineral Resources then proposes to design and construct a commercial scale production facility. The initial capacity of the commercial production facility will be 1,000tpa but will be capable of modular expansion to enable production to be progressively ramped up to meet market demands.
Hazer Group was founded in 2010 to commercialise technology originally developed at the University of Western Australia.
Prior to listing, over eight years was spent developing the underlying Hazer Process, using natural gas and unprocessed iron ore to create low cost, low-emission “clean” hydrogen, considered to be a key fuel in the transition to low carbon economy. In addition to the hydrogen product, the Hazer Process produces synthetic graphite, used in lithium ion batteries, lubrication and industrial applications.
In early 2016 the company developed a research partnership with the University of Sydney, and established our core development operations within the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Sydney. The company is also developing a demonstration plant in Sydney and working towards scaling up the Hazer Process into larger commercial sized plants.
This agreement allows for the next phase of that pilot development to occur.
The terms of the agreement also allow Hazer to continue pursuing current global hydrogen production opportunities, with Mineral Resources being granted primary off-take partner for any graphite that is produced as a by-product of the additional hydrogen production projects.
“This arrangement is expected to substantially accelerate the commercial deployment of the Hazer technology for both graphite and hydrogen production globally,” Mr Pocock said.