Lincoln Materials plans to begin construction on its graphite mine, the Kookaburra Gully project, by the end of 2017, and Archer Exploration Ltd. has lodged a formal mining lease for the Campoona Shaft graphite deposit. Both projects are on the Eyre Peninsula.

Lincoln Materials has begun laboratory testing of samples from its planned Kookaburra Gully project. Bulk samples as large as 5 metric tons (mt) will be analyzed by experts in China, which is the world’s largest producer of graphite.

Lincoln Managing Director Dr. John Parker said the Kookaburra Gully mine represented Australia’s highest-grade flake graphite deposit, used in a variety of graphite-based products.

“About 50-60% of spherical graphite produced globally currently comes from natural flake graphite,” he said.

Graphite has seen a resurgence in price in recent times due to increased demand from applications such as lithium-ion battery technology for electric cars and the novel substance grapheme. It is also at the forefront of the growing global green energy market, with a proposed solar thermal power station 250 km north of Lincoln Materials’ Kookaburra Gully project estimated to require more than 17,000 mt of graphite.

Archer Exploration Ltd.’s application comes after a scoping study last month concluded the Campoona Shaft deposit’s total revenue was estimated at AU$858 million over 17 years.

Archer Executive Chairman Greg English said the lodging of a formal lease represented the end of a comprehensive approval process.

“Over the past three years, Archer has actively engaged in a community consultation process and completed a series of comprehensive reports and studies that support the application,” he said. “The application for a mining lease at Campoona Shaft is a very significant milestone for Archer.”