Sarytogan (ASX:SGA) produces nuclear-grade Kazakhstani graphite

Sarytogan (ASX:SGA) produces nuclear-grade Kazakhstani graphite

May 14, 2024 Off By Jack Baker

Sarytogan Graphite has successfully produced extremely high-purity graphite with an equivalent boron content well below the maximum mark for an ultra-premium nuclear-grade product from its namesake project in central Kazakhstan.

The Subiaco-based graphite play recently announced production of “five nines” graphite at 99.9992 per cent purity, and the remaining impurity was assayed using one of the only two machines in the US with capacity to measure at such low levels.

The previous contaminant of 17 elements came at less than 1.2 parts per million, with assays for the full 24-element suite now returning with a 1.1ppm of boron equivalent almost at a half of the 2ppm cutoff.

A five nines grade was already around 50 times purer than battery-grade requirements, and Sarytogan Graphite now heads to a pre-feasibility study on schedule having confirmed nuclear specifications.

Managing Director Sean Gregory said increasing purity had broadened the product offering from industrial uses to advanced battery applications, and now to a range of nuclear options.

“Subject to certification and qualification, this product is expected to attract super-premium prices in the nuclear industry,” Gregory said.

“We expect to be able to quantify the economics associated with taking our giant and exceptionally high-grade deposit into the premium battery anode market and now super premium nuclear industry market.”

Graphite’s primary use is a surrounding moderator of the uranium fuel rods in a reactor, used to slow down neutrons released during fission for a continuous chain reaction.

Other high-purity demands of the nuclear industry include yarns, seals, lubricants, coatings, foils, and reflective material applications, leading to 60,000 tonnes of demand a year and a price tag of US$25,000 (~AUD38,000) a tonne for moderator material.

Numbers which could easily go upwards alongside the uranium price given a raft of reactors expected to be built and come online in the near future.

While many are replacing retired operations, around 60 new reactors are now under construction across the world with plans for another 110 well in the works.

Most of those are being constructed in Asia, and while Australia and European nations hem and haw their own future, emissions deadlines loom, and nuclear increasingly looks the least carbon intensive way to produce reliable electricity on a large scale.

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