- The U.S. is under mandates to slash emissions and reduce dependence on Chinese graphite production for EVs, earmarking billions of dollars to develop domestic infrastructure
- About 70 graphite mines are in production worldwide today, none in the U.S., with estimates for nearly 100 more mines to come online just to meet graphite demand for battery anodes
- Reflex Advanced Materials is advancing the 2,000-acre Ruby Graphite Project in Montana with plans to commission it as a high purity graphite mine in the U.S.
President Joe Biden wants his legacy to fall on his efforts to reverse our effects on climate change through renewable energies and electrification. If the nation is to meet its stated goals of 50-52 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas pollution from 2005 levels in 2030 and becoming a net zero emissions economy by 2050, some things are going to have to undergo radical change. High on this priority list must be building holistic infrastructure for domestic electrification manufacturing, particularly as it relates to critical materials like graphite for which the U.S. is 100 percent dependent upon imports.
For this to happen, the North American mining landscape is going to be reshaped, where companies like Reflex Advanced Materials (CSE: RFLX) (OTCQB: RFLXF) can emerge to help meet a massive supply shortfall.
Politicians rarely seem to find common ground anymore, but graphite needs to have hands reaching across the aisle. President Trump put graphite on a list of materials critical to the nation’s security. President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to hasten U.S. production of minerals for EV and storage batteries. Synchronously, billions of dollars have been allocated with bipartisan support to develop an EV battery supply chain.
Don’t pigeonhole graphite into simply being important to the EV sector. Graphite is a versatile material and critical component in various industries, from electronics to battery technology and advanced composites. It is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, making it an ideal material for use in computer chips, touchscreens, and LEDs. Graphite’s unique thermal properties make it a perfect for use in high-temperature applications, such as in nuclear reactors, aerospace, and automotive industries. Graphite is also used in bio-sensing and membrane technology, where its unique properties make it irreplaceable for use in medical devices and water treatment.
The most significant application of graphite is arguably in battery technology where it is integral to lithium-ion batteries, which power everything from smartphones to EVs. In fairness, lithium-ion batteries should have “graphite” somewhere in the name considering nearly half of the overall weight of a lithium-ion battery consists of graphite.
With the rise in demand for EVs, electronic devices and the advent of new technologies like 5G, the demand for graphite is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.
A quick look at the numbers provides a great deal of clarity as the urgency to bring new graphite mines online. In 2023, there are 70 graphite mines globally, most of which are in China, India, and Africa. To meet demand for battery anode materials by 2035, it is estimated that 97 natural flake mines producing 56,000 metric tons annually will need be to be constructed, along with 52 new synthetic plants, averaging 57,000 metric tons each year.
Why so much? When a lithium-ion battery is charging, lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode, a process that is reversed as the stored energy is discharged. Manufacturers use different materials in cathodes, but graphite is hands-down the most popular for anodes owing to its lower cost and longer life cycle.
In 2021, China produced approximately 70 percent of graphite for EV batteries in America. The U.S. is committed to slashing this reliance, with tariffs implemented that makes it more expensive to import graphite products from the country. This has emphasized the need for North American graphite production.
From its headquarters in British Columbia, Canada, Reflex Advanced Materials is focused on improving domestic specialty mineral infrastructure efficiencies to meet surging national demand by North American manufacturers. The company is working to advance its graphite Ruby Graphite Project (high-quality natural flake and vein), located in Beaverhead County, Montana, and ZigZag Lake Lithium Property, located in Thunder Bay Mining Division, Crescent Lake Area, Ontario.
The company is executing a diversified model to capitalize on market opportunities. Late in March, Reflex entered into a subscription agreement and agreed to make a strategic investment in Bio Graphene Solutions Inc. (“BGS”). BGS is a private nanotechnology company that specializes in the production of high-quality graphene. As part of the strategic investment, Reflex expects to benefit by collaborating with BGS on potential cross-development projects that include exploring downstream applications that compliment any graphite material sourced from the company’s Ruby Graphite project, which spans about 2,000 acres in the southwestern corner of the state.
The project was an operating mine run by the Crystal Graphite Company from 1901 until 1948, having produced more than 2,500 metric tonnes of vein graphite. A fire consumed the small concentration mill and part of the mining camp around 1950, and the location was abandoned and mostly forgotten. Reflex plans to resurrect the graphite production and become the only commercial crystalline graphite mine in the U.S.
Aligned with market needs, Reflex has a mine-to-market approach, including plans to custom process graphite products to customer specifications by working with carefully selected, best-of-breed, North American mineral processors, each of whom own and operate world-class, industrial-scale processing facilities.
Investors are going to have plenty to look forward to this summer. Permit applications for an exploration program at the Ruby Graphite project have been submitted to the Bureau of Land Management detailing construction of access routes and 20+ drill pads, amongst other things to advance the project.
The initial drill program, slated for this summer, includes 3,500 meters of drilling cored to an average depth of 130 meters. Targets were determined from historical data from original mine operations and data gathered for the initial 43-101 technical report on the project, dated January 31, 2023.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ReflexMaterials.com.
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