Beowulf (AIM: BEM; Spotlight: BEO), the mineral exploration and development company, is pleased to announce that its wholly owned Finnish subsidiary, Grafintec Oy (“Grafintec”), has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) with Qingdao Hensen Graphite Ltd (“Hensen”), that includes an agreed framework and key terms on which both companies are collaborating with regards to establishing an anode materials hub in Vaasa, Finland.
Formed in 1985, Hensen has been operating in the graphite industry for 37 years; throughout that period supplying traditional markets, with increasing focus on natural flake graphite-based anode materials and synthetic graphite-based anode materials.
Hensen has been producing graphite-based anode materials since 2003, almost 20 years in the market, and already has plans to increase production to 50,000 tonnes per annum (“tpa”) in 2023 from a current production level of 10,000tpa. Hensen started producing synthetic graphite-based anode materials in 2017 and currently produces 30,000tpa.
Activities under the MoU announced today have already commenced, with Grafintec and Hensen having last week submitted a joint-proposal to the City of Vaasa with respect to the establishment of an anode materials production facility to be located in the GigaVaasa area, Plot 18.
Further to the Company’s announcement of 25 August 2022, the previous MoU for Plot 18, entered into with the City of Vaasa and announced on 11 January 2022, has been terminated, as Grafintec and Epsilon Advanced Materials Private Ltd are no longer partners.
Grafintec’s ambition is to create a sustainable value chain in Finland from high-quality natural flake graphite resources to downstream anode material production, leveraging Finland’s natural resources, including available renewable power, and targeting net zero CO2 emissions across the supply chain. The development of downstream capabilities is part of Grafintec’s strategy and the Company believes that partnerships with other companies, such as Hensen, are a key enabler to reduce development risk and get to market faster.
Last year, Grafintec was granted EUR 791,000 funding by Business Finland as part of the BATCircle2.0 (Finland-based Circular Ecosystem of Battery Metals) consortium. The funding will be used to develop a sustainable technological solution, utilizing renewable energy, to spheronise and purify graphite within a Finnish industrial ecosystem, for use in the manufacture of lithium-ion battery anodes.
The project has three objectives, which are to:
- Validate a process to support progress to a Bankable Feasibility Study for construction of a commercial scale unit within three to five years.
- Secure and protect any arising intellectual property.
- Deliver a detailed strategic marketing and commercialisation plan.
Considering security of supply, Aitolampi remains Grafintec’s most advanced natural flake graphite project, with a contained graphite resource of 1,275,000 tonnes, possessing almost perfect crystallinity, an important prerequisite for high tech applications, such as lithium-ion batteries. In addition, Grafintec has several other exploration properties which it is investigating for their graphite potential.
Kurt Budge, Chief Executive Officer of Beowulf, commented:
“Beowulf and Hensen first established contact in 2015 and I am delighted that we have joined forces to work on the GigaVaasa project, combining Hensen’s 37 years’ of knowledge and experience in the graphite industry, and almost 20 years in the anode market, with Grafintec’s strong position in the anode space of the Finnish battery cluster, and the Company’s natural flake graphite resources, which represent a potential secure and sustainable supply of raw materials for Finland to achieve its self-sufficiency ambitions in battery raw materials.”