Vancouver, Canada – Leading Edge Materials Corp. (“Leading Edge Materials”) or (the “Company”) (TSXV: LEM) (OTCQB: LEMIF) is pleased to provide results from independent test work completed on samples of Woxna high purity spherical graphite. Test work was directed at characterization of the high purity graphite, and to determine its suitability for use in lithium ion battery anode manufacturing.
The high purity spherical graphite used in test work was produced using graphite concentrate from the Company’s 100% owned Woxna graphite mine and processing facility in Sweden. The Woxna project is fully permitted and operational ready for the annual production of approximately 10,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate.
The process to qualify graphite for the high quality lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles has many steps. These first rounds involve grams of material and then advances to kilograms followed by more extensive testing in tens of kilograms. Fortunately, we have sufficient stockpiles of graphite concentrates in our warehouse to advance through these many tests as expediently as possible over the coming months. This latest round of test work achieved high electrochemical performance results, and exceeded expectations in most measured values. The Woxna high purity spherical graphite exhibited high reversible capacity of 360 mAh/g that is close to the theoretical maximum of 372 mAh/g.
Blair Way, President and CEO, states: “This is an important step in the process to qualify Woxna graphite for the high value and growing lithium ion battery market. With a fully operational mine and process facility, we are in a strong position to become a partner of choice in the supply of high purity spherical graphite. I look forward to sharing the results of our testwork over the coming months as we progress to qualify our graphite mine products for lithium ion battery customers.”
The Woxna high purity spherical graphite was tested by Coulometrics LLC, an independent laboratory in the United States with extensive experience in the preparation of battery materials.
Coulometrics President and CEO, Dr. Edward Buiel states: “Our evaluation of the Woxna graphite concentrates produced very encouraging electrochemical results. The high reversible capacity of 360 mAh/g exceeds most battery manufacturer’s requirement of 350 mAh/g and makes this material well suited for further lithium ion battery development. Furthermore, we anticipate additional performance improvements in the Woxna material as additional process development and material optimization work is complete”.
Leading Edge Materials is now defining the next steps required to ensure high purity spherical graphite produced from the Woxna project in Sweden can meet the stringent demands of lithium ion battery cell manufacturers. With a fully permitted mine and processing facility, Leading Edge Materials is well positioned in the Western graphite industry, and can play a lead role in the secure and sustainable supply of high purity graphite to the expanding lithium ion battery market.
Lithium ion batteries, utilizing high purity spherical graphite, have become the technology of choice for the automotive, consumer electronic and stationary energy storage markets. Up to 20% by mass of a rechargeable lithium ion battery is graphite, forming the anode where lithium is temporarily stored as the battery discharges.
The current global rechargeable battery market is estimated to be valued at approximately US$50 billion, with one third contributed by lithium ion technology. By 2025, it is forecast (Bernstein, Deutsche Bank) that the lithium ion market will grow by up to 4 times, driven in particular by the accelerated uptake in the automotive market. Goldman Sachs predicts 37% of new vehicle sales globally will be Electric (EV) or Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) by 2025 up from less than 2% of sales today.
While lithium ion batteries have traditionally utilized synthetic graphite for the anode, as markets grow and battery cost per kilowatt hour falls, the battery industry is shifting to purified natural flake graphite material, to lower both the cost and the environmental burden of lithium ion battery production. In 2016, global demand for graphite for all battery types is estimated to exceed 125,000t (Roskill), with natural graphite accounting for around 90,000t (70-75%). Tesla’s “gigafactory” in Nevada, forecast to begin production of lithium ion batteries in late 2016, shall alone require a significant expansion in the global production of high purity spherical graphite.
The Woxna project has never defined a mineral reserve and the previous preliminary economic assessment on Woxna dated October 29, 2013, has been superseded by the Company’s current technical report dated May 11, 2015. As the Woxna facility is not in production but remains on a production ready status, any future decision to recommence mining at Woxna will not be based on a preliminary economic assessment demonstrating the potential viability of mineral resources or feasibility study of mineral reserves demonstrating economic and technical viability. Under these circumstances, there is increased risk of technical and economic failure for the Woxna project, and the Company discloses additional risk factors relating thereto. The Company advises that it has not based its production decision on a feasibility study of mineral reserves, demonstrating economic and technical viability, and, as a result, there may be an increased uncertainty of achieving any particular level of recovery of minerals or the cost of such recovery, including increased risks associated with developing a commercially mineable deposit. Historically, such projects have a much higher risk of economic and technical failure. There is no guarantee that production will begin as anticipated or at all or that anticipated production costs will be achieved. Failure to commence production would have a material adverse impact on the Company’s ability to generate revenue and cash flow to fund operations. Failure to achieve any anticipated production costs would have a material adverse impact on the Company’s cash flow and future profitability. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.
About Leading Edge Materials:
Leading Edge Materials was formed with our sights firmly focussed on the material demands of a once-in-a-generation revolution, as the world shifts to the efficient production, storage and preservation of low carbon energy. From the lithium batteries in our electric vehicles to our ability to generate energy from the sun, wind and waves. With a focus on Europe and assets in innovation-rich Scandinavia, Leading Edge Materials is ideally placed to play a pivotal role in the sustainable supply of critical technology materials.
Coulometrics is an advanced energy storage consulting and manufacturing company. It provides cell assembly and testing services for LIB, EDLC, NiMH and lead acid batteries. It also provides mixing, coating, calendaring and slitting services for battery companies.
On behalf of the Board,
Blair Way, President & CEO
Forward-Looking Information. Certain information in this news release may constitute forward-looking statements or forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws (collectively, “Forward-Looking Statements”). All statements, other than statements of historical fact that address activities, events or developments that the Company believes, expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future are Forward-Looking Statements. Forward-Looking Statements are often, but not always, identified by the use of words such as “seek,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “plan,” “estimate,” “expect,” and “intend” and statements that an event or result “may,” “will,” “can,” “should,” “could,” or “might” occur or be achieved and other similar expressions. Forward-Looking Statements are based upon the opinions and expectations of the Company based on information currently available to the Company. Forward-Looking Statements are subject to a number of factors, risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results of the Company to differ materially from those discussed in the Forward-Looking Statements including, among other things, the Company has yet to generate a profit from its activities; there can be no guarantee that the estimates of quantities or qualities of minerals disclosed in the Company’s public record will be economically recoverable; uncertainties relating to the availability and costs of financing needed in the future; competition with other companies within the mining industry; the success of the Company is largely dependent upon the performance of its directors and officers and the Company’s ability to attract and train key personnel; changes in world metal markets and equity markets beyond the Company’s control; mineral resources are, in the large part, estimates and no assurance can be given that the anticipated tonnages and grades will be achieved or that the indicated level of recovery will be realized; production rates and capital and other costs may vary significantly from estimates; changes in corporate goals and strategies, the Company’s preliminary economic assessment is no longer current or valid and the Company has no plans to complete a new preliminary economic assessment, a pre-feasibility or feasibility study on the project, as a result there is an increased risk of technical and economic failure for the Woxna graphite project; unexpected geological conditions; delays in obtaining or failure to obtain necessary permits and approvals from government authorities; all phases of a mining business present environmental and safety risks and hazards and are subject to environmental and safety regulation, and rehabilitation and restitution costs; the Company does not maintain insurance against environmental risks; and management of the Company have experience in mineral exploration but may lack all or some of the necessary technical training and experience to successfully develop and operate a mine. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in the Forward-Looking Statements, and the assumptions on which such Forward-Looking Statements are made, are reasonable, there can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on Forward-Looking Statements, as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions or expectations upon which the Forward-Looking Statements are based will occur. Forward-Looking Statements herein are made as at the date hereof, and unless otherwise required by law, the Company does not intend, or assume any obligation, to update these Forward-Looking Statements.The TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange), accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.