Aitolampi Graphite Concentrates Demonstrate Significant Market Potential

The information contained within this announcement is deemed to constitute inside information as stipulated under the Market Abuse Regulations ("MAR") (EU) No. 596/2014. Upon the publication of this announcement, this inside information is now considered to be in the public domain. 

For the purposes of MAR and Article 2 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1055, this announcement is being made on behalf of Kurt Budge, Chief Executive Officer. 

30 January 2018

Beowulf (AIM: BEM; Aktietorget: BEO), the mineral exploration and development company, focused on the Kallak magnetite iron ore project and the Åtvidaberg polymetallic exploration licence in Sweden, and its graphite portfolio in Finland, is pleased to announce the results from testwork on graphite samples from its Aitolampi project, and plans for an additional drilling programme.

Highlights  

  • Alkaline purification produced 99.86 per cent Total Carbon (“C(t)”) for +100-mesh concentrate and 99.82 per cent C(t) for -100-mesh concentrate.
  • Results from acid purification were also promising and reached 99.6 per cent C(t) for the +100-mesh and 99.41 per cent for the –100-mesh concentrate.
  • The alkaline and acid purification results indicate that, with some process optimisation, Aitolampi concentrates may meet the purity specification of 99.95 per cent C(t) required for the lithium ion battery market.
  • Aitolampi graphite shows high crystallinity, with the degree of graphitisation measuring approximately 98 per cent, which is almost perfect crystallinity, an important prerequisite for high tech applications, such as lithium ion batteries.
  • Volatiles are low, which is an attractive product attribute in many applications, including refractories, lubricants, crucibles, and foundries.
  • Specific Surface Area (“SSA”) is comparable to that of high quality flake graphite from China.
  • Oxidation behaviour is comparable with Chinese graphite of the same flake size, used for refractories, and other high temperature applications.
  • The Company has awarded a contract to Oy Northdrill, a Finnish drilling company, for a further 1000 metres (“m”) of drilling, due to commence in March 2018.

Kurt Budge, CEO, commented:

It’s great to announce with more positive results from our Aitolampi graphite project in Finland.  We made steady progress through 2017, and the project continues to move in the right direction. 

“Our consultant, ProGraphite, has built on the prior work, completed by SGS, and its findings demonstrate the broad market attractiveness of the graphite concentrates that we might produce.  Not only do we have the potential to serve lithium ion battery manufacturers, but the Aitolampi concentrates’ chemical and physical properties could also suit many other applications.

“The initial focus will be for Beowulf to look to sell its graphite into non-battery markets, due to the time taken to satisfy battery manufacturer’s quality requirements, however, the battery market has the potential to provide real upside for the Company as development and production progresses.

“At Aitolampi, we will re-start drilling in March 2018, conduct more testwork, seek to estimate a maiden resource, and thereafter initiate a Scoping Study. The Company’s ambition remains to have a graphite asset in production within two to three years.”

Background

Aitolampi is in eastern Finland, approximately 40 kilometres southwest of the well-established mining town of Outokumpu. Infrastructure in the area is excellent, with road access and good availability of high voltage power.

Drilling

In March 2017, the Company completed an eight-hole, 1,197 metre (“m”) diamond drilling programme.  The aims of the drilling were to test the potential for economic mineralisation along a major electro-magnetic (“EM”) conductive zone, and to provide representative sample material for assaying and metallurgical testwork.

Drilling confirmed that the EM conductive zones identified at Aitolampi are associated with wide zones of graphite mineralisation, with a mineralised strike length of at least 350m along the main, drill tested, conductive zone, which extends for 700m, continuous along strike and down dip. The zones, which dip between 40 to 50 degrees to the southwest, can be very broad, attaining down-hole thicknesses of continuous graphite intercepts up to 140m.

Mineralised drill intercepts included 202.9m at 3.09 per cent Total Graphite Carbon (“TGC”, also described by some laboratories as Graphitic Carbon “Cg”) (including barren zones with no assays and assumed to be zero per cent TGC), including higher-grade zones of 18.95m at 6.33 per cent TGC, and 14m at 6.26 per cent TGC, 141.86m at 3.72 per cent TGC, including a higher-grade zone of 39.48m at 5.02 per cent TGC, and 41.1m at 4.39 per cent TGC, including 28.4m at 5.1 per cent TGC. Mineralisation intercepts are down-hole widths and are not true widths; however, it is noted that the holes were drilled approximately orthogonal to the mineralisation.

See announcement on the Company’s website, dated 24 May 2017:

http://beowulfmining.com/news/graphite-exploration-update/ 

Metallurgical Testwork

Three samples, MET-17001, MET-17002 and MET-17003, comprising composited quarter drill core of approximately 10 kilograms each, were dispatched to SGS Minerals Services in Canada for metallurgical testwork. The objective of the testwork was to develop a preliminary understanding of the metallurgical response of the different samples and to characterise the graphite concentrate produced, in terms of flake size distribution and total carbon grades of different size fractions.

  • Sample MET-17001 comprised representative graphite mineralised drill core from drill holes along the main conductive zone (average 5.02 per cent Cg).
  • Sample MET-17002, comprised drill core from higher grade horizons (average 6.47 per cent Cg) in two parallel conductors’ south-west of the main zone.
  • Sample MET-17003 was collected from drill core from the main conductive zone (average 4.60 per cent Cg).

All three samples produced high grade concentrate grades when subjected to a preliminary flowsheet, and secondary cleaning circuits proved highly effective in liberating and rejecting gangue minerals.

The Total Carbon grades ranged between 92.7 per cent C(t) for the +48-mesh of the MET-17001 sample and 98.5 per cent C(t) for the -150/+200 mesh of the MET-17003 sample.

Discounting the lowest grade of 92.7 per cent C(t), all other size fractions graded 94.4 per cent C(t) or higher.

Even the -400-mesh produced high grades ranging from 95.0 per cent C(t) for sample MET-17001 to 97.8 per cent C(t) for sample MET-17003.

See announcement on the Company’s website, dated 2 October 2017:

http://beowulfmining.com/news/aitolampi-delivers-high-grade-concentrate-results/

Latest Metallurgical Testwork

The latest round of metallurgical testwork has been conducted by ProGraphite Gmbh (“ProGraphite”) based in Germany.  ProGraphite specialises in the processing and evaluation of graphite materials.

Concentrates produced by SGS Minerals Services were combined and sent to ProGraphite in the fourth quarter last year.  The objective of the advanced testwork was to determine the suitability of Aitolampi concentrates for different market applications.

The following tests were undertaken:

  • Concentrate Product Characterisation (LOI/Fixed carbon on concentrate and mesh fractions, bulk densities, Specific Surfaces Analysis (SSA), Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), Inductively Coupled Plasma (“ICP”) analysis, and X-ray Diffraction (“XRD”) analysis;
  • Purification Processing (Acid purification, Alkaline purification, and ICP analysis on purified graphite); and
  • Production of Expandable Graphite.

 The following results were achieved:          

  • Results show that both acid and alkaline purification methods can produce a very clean concentrate of greater than 99.41 per cent C(t).
  • The alkaline method, using standard formulation, produced the highest grades, 99.82 per cent C(t) for the -100-mesh concentrate, and 99.86 per cent C(t) for the +100-mesh concentrate.
  • Results obtained from acid purification reached 99.6 per cent C(t) for the +100-mesh fraction.
  • The alkaline and acid purification results indicate that, with some process optimisation, Aitolampi concentrates may meet the purity specification of 99.95 per cent C(t) required for the lithium ion battery market.
  • There is also a good market for the -100 mesh and greater than 95 per cent C(t) concentrate.
  • Carbon content in all fractions, including the fines, is very high and ranges from 96.25 to 97.61 per cent C(t).  The demand is significant for fine graphite with high carbon, across various applications.
  • Aitolampi graphite shows high crystallinity, with the degree of graphitisation measuring approximately 98 per cent, which is almost perfect crystallinity, and an important consideration for battery manufacturers seeking high energy density in cells.
  • Volatiles are low which is an attractive product attribute, and often a pre-condition, in many applications, including refractories, lubricants, crucibles, and foundries.
  • SSA is comparable to that of high quality flake graphite from China.
  • Oxidation behaviour, tested with TGA analysis, is comparable with Chinese graphite of the same flake size, used for refractories, and other high temperature applications.
  • ICP analysis, for elemental impurities in the alkaline purified concentrate, showed that impurities could be reduced to significantly lower levels by intensifying purification, optimising the amount of chemicals used, and process parameters, such as reaction time and temperature.

Competent Person Review

Dr Andrew Scogings PhD Geology, MAIG, MAusIMM, RPGeo (Industrial Minerals) has conducted a desktop review of source documents and data which underpins the technical statements disclosed herein and approves the disclosure of technical information in the form and context in which it appears in this announcement, in his capacity as a Competent Person ("CP"), as required under the AIM rules. 

The source information, including that referenced in this announcement held by Fennoscandian has been presented by Mr. Rasmus Blomqvist and reviewed by the CP. It should be noted that the technical disclosure herein, for which the CP takes responsibility, is based on desk-top review of documents only, and no data verification works or project inspections have been carried out by the CP at this time.  

Dr Scogings is a geologist with more than 25 years' experience in industrial minerals exploration, product development and sales management.  Andrew has published papers on reporting requirements of the JORC Code 2012, with specific reference to Table 1 and Clauses 18 and 19 (industrial mineral Exploration Results) and Clause 49 (industrial mineral specifications). He has published numerous articles on industrial minerals in Industrial Minerals Magazine, SEG Mining News, AIG News and AIG Journal amongst others, addressing aspects of QA/QC, bulk density methods and petrography for industrial minerals exploration. He was recently senior author of two significant reviews: Natural Graphite Report - strategic outlook to 2020 and Drilling grade barite - Supply, Demand & Markets published in 2015 by Industrial Minerals Research (UK), and has co-authored several papers ranking global graphite exploration projects. Andrew is a Registered Professional Geoscientist (RP Geo. Industrial Minerals) with the Australian Institute of Geoscientists.

Enquiries:

Beowulf Mining plc
Kurt Budge, Chief Executive Officer Tel: +44 (0) 20 3771 6993
Cantor Fitzgerald Europe(Nominated Advisor & Broker)
David Porter Tel: +44 (0) 20 7894 7000
Blytheweigh   
Tim Blythe / Megan Ray  Tel: +44 (0) 20 7138 3204

Cautionary Statement

Statements and assumptions made in this document with respect to the Company’s current plans, estimates, strategies and beliefs, and other statements that are not historical facts, are forward-looking statements about the future performance of Beowulf. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, those using words such as "may", "might", "seeks", "expects", "anticipates", "estimates", "believes", "projects", "plans", strategy", "forecast" and similar expressions. These statements reflect management's expectations and assumptions in light of currently available information. They are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, (i) changes in the economic, regulatory and political environments in the countries where Beowulf operates; (ii) changes relating to the geological information available in respect of the various projects undertaken; (iii) Beowulf’s continued ability to secure enough financing to carry on its operations as a going concern; (iv) the success of its potential joint ventures and alliances, if any; (v) metal prices, particularly as regards iron ore. In the light of the many risks and uncertainties surrounding any mineral project at an early stage of its development, the actual results could differ materially from those presented and forecast in this document. Beowulf assumes no unconditional obligation to immediately update any such statements and/or forecasts.

Glossary:

Micron - a unit of length equal to one millionth of a metre.

Mesh size - the number of openings in a one US inch of screen is the mesh size e.g. a 4-mesh screen means there are four squares across one linear inch of screen.  A 100-mesh screen has 100 openings, and so on.  As the number describing the mesh size increases, the size of the particles passing through the mesh decreases.  Higher numbers equal finer material.  Mesh size is not a precise measurement of particle size.  If minus (-) and plus (+) plus signs are shown when describing mesh sizes, this is best explained with an example: -200-mesh would mean that all particles smaller than 200-mesh would pass through. +200 mesh means that all the particles 200-mesh or larger are retained.

Inductively Coupled Plasma (“ICP”) Mass Spectrometry or ICP-MS is an analytical technique used for elemental determinations.  An ICP-MS combines a high-temperature ICP source with a mass spectrometer. The ICP source converts the atoms of the elements in the sample to ions. These ions are then separated and detected by the mass spectrometer.

X-ray Diffraction (“XRD”) – XRD is an instrumental technique that is used to identify minerals, as well as other crystalline materials. The three-dimensional structure of non-amorphous materials, such as minerals, is defined by regular, repeating planes of atoms that form a crystal lattice. When a focused X-ray beam interacts with these planes of atoms, part of the beam is transmitted, part is absorbed by the sample, part is refracted and scattered, and part is diffracted. Diffraction of an X-ray beam by a crystalline solid is analogous to diffraction of light by droplets of water, producing the familiar rainbow. Each mineral diffracts X-rays differently, depending on what atoms make up 

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