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'Soaring demand' for graphite spurs action around Hearst-area deposit

Zentek transfers graphite project to new mine development spinoff company
Zenyatta Ventures core rack
(Zenyatta Ventures core rack photo)

A Guelph-based graphene technology company is transferring a highly pure graphite project, near Hearst, to a recently created spinoff company.

Zentek said in a news release that it’s executed a property purchase agreement to transfer its Albany graphite deposit to a new subsidiary, Albany Graphite Corporation.

The plan is to raise project financing for a potential mine through a non-brokered private placement and get the new company listed on a Canadian stock exchange.

Zentek said the funds would be earmarked for engagement with the nearby Constance Lake First Nation and to continue working on an environmental baseline study and other technical studies needed to fully evaluate the project's potential.

The Albany deposit is situated 30 kilometres north of Highway 11. The discovery was made in 2011.

A 2015 preliminary economic assessment placed a 22-year open-pit mine life for Albany with projected production pegged at 30,000 tonnes of graphite ore a year.

Zentek has an “implementation agreement” with Constance Lake establishing the ground rules for governance, everybody's respective roles and responsibilities and activities toward an eventually implementng a project partnership structure.

The company said the graphite at Albany is easy to exfoliate and well suited to make high-quality graphene for advanced technical uses. 

Heading up this new company will be Zentek CEO Greg Fenton as chair of Albany’s board of directors. Brian Bosse will serve as CEO.

Peter Wood, a geological engineer who has served as Zentek’s vice-president of exploration since 2013, becomes Albany’s vice-president of development.

Over the years, Zentek – formerly known as Zenyatta Ventures and ZEN Graphene Solutions – has transitioned from being a junior exploration mining company to become a healthcare solutions company with the processing capability of converting graphite to graphene.

Graphene is a microscopic material made up of a single layer of carbon atoms that is light, strong, durable and conductive with a multitude of applications.

During the pandemic, Zentek achieved a commercial breakthrough with a Health Canada-approved product in the form of a graphene-based microbial coating that can be applied to surgical masks and gowns to neutralize viruses like COVID-19. The company has a growing catalogue of related healthcare products involving nano-graphite and graphene-based materials.

As a so-called critical mineral, graphite is also used in batteries for electric vehicles and other metallurgical applications in aerospace, defense, energy, electronics, telecommunications, and transportation technologies.

The company alludes to a Benchmark Mineral Intelligence report which indicates the graphite market will be in significant production deficit over the next decade. By 2040, the demand for North American-sourced graphite will take off with a shortfall projected to be equivalent to eight times the current level of production.

“With this soaring demand for graphite and strong political support for the EV industry, it is time to resume work on the unique Albany Graphite Deposit,” said Fenton in a statement.

“With its significant size and high-performance characteristics, similar to synthetic graphite, the Albany Deposit could potentially play a strong role in the battery supply chain in North America.”