Preliminary Roadmap for the development of the Graphite Anode Materials Plant in the GigaVaasa area
Beowulf (AIM: BEM; Spotlight: BEO), and its wholly owned Finnish subsidiary Grafintec Oy (“Grafintec”), are pleased to provide an update on the development plans for the Graphite Anode Materials Plant (“GAMP”) in the GigaVaasa area.
· Following the positive preliminary economics with a post-tax NPV8 of US$242 million and a post-tax IRR of 39%, the Company is advancing parallel environmental and technical workstreams for the development of the GAMP.
· The Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) is underway and is expected to be completed in Q1 2024.
· Following completion and submission of the EIA, the Company will initiate work on the Environmental Permit process.
· Following the conclusion of the Pre-Feasibility Study (“PFS”) technical work, bench-scale test work is scheduled to begin in October. This will be followed by pilot-scale test work that will be critical for optimising the process design and producing material that can be tested by future battery manufacturers.
· It is currently anticipated that the Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”) will begin in mid-2024.
· The development of the GAMP is further supported by the recently approved European Union Critical Raw Materials Act (“CRM Act”). The CRM Act, which includes graphite as a Critical Raw Material, sets the target of at least 10% of the EU’s annual consumption to be obtained from EU extraction and at least 40% of the EU’s annual consumption to be obtained from processing within the EU.
Rasmus Blomqvist, Managing Director of Grafintec, commented:
“I am very pleased to be able to set out the development plan for the GAMP project. The next critical phases are the completion of the EIA and further test work, initially at bench-scale but subsequently at pilot-scale. These phases will be followed by the Environmental Permitting process and the launch of the DFS later in 2024.”
Ed Bowie, Chief Executive Officer of Beowulf, commented:
“With the backdrop of the EU’s CRM Act, the timing could not be better to be developing our graphite business in Finland. We have some very clear deadlines and deliverables that the team and I will be working hard to meet.
“We look forward updating the market on our progress over the coming months.”
The development plan for the GAMP is focused on two primary workstreams, Environmental and Technical. These workstreams require synchronisation, with outcomes from each needing to be incorporated in the other.
The Environmental workstream comprises the following:
· Grafintec has appointed Finnish Engineering Consultancy AFRY Finland Oy (“AFRY”) to undertake the EIA, which is aimed to be completed in Q1 2024.
· Following its submission, the local authority, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (“ELY”), will review the EIA before making a statement of their findings. The review process by ELY is anticipated to take approximately three months.
· Following completion and submission of the EIA, work will commence towards the Environmental Permit. The Environmental Permit application, which will take approximately six months to compile, is then submitted to the Regional State Administrative Agency (“AVI”).
· The processing of the Environmental Permit is expected to take approximately one year, with the final decision anticipated towards the end of 2025.
The Technical workstream comprises the following:
· With the PFS technical work complete and the preliminary economics released, the project is advancing with bench-scale test work commencing in October, which is to be followed by pilot-scale test work.
· On the conclusion of the first phase of pilot-scale test work in the first half of 2024, the Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”) will be launched.
· The DFS is expected to take six to nine months to complete and, during this period, pilot-scale test work will continue, generating sufficient product for battery manufacturers to complete pre-qualification testing.
With the successful conclusion of the Environmental and Technical workstreams listed above, the GAMP project will enter Front-End Engineering Design (“FEED”), financing and ultimately construction phases with first production targeted for 2027.
The European Parliament voted on 7 September 2023, in favour of the Critical Raw Materials Act (“CRM Act”). The CRM Act aims to ensure that the EU has access to a secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials, enabling Europe to meet its 2030 climate and digital objectives.
The CRM Act sets benchmarks along the strategic raw-materials value-chain (including natural graphite) and for the diversification of the EU supplies which is currently heavily controlled by only few countries, including, for example, China in the graphite anode materials supply chain.
The CRM Act set targets to be met by 2030 for:
· at least 10% of the EU’s annual consumption to be derived from EU extraction;
· at least 40% of the EU’s annual consumption to be derived from EU processing;
· at least 15% of the EU’s annual consumption to be derived from EU recycling; and
· no more than 65% of the EU’s annual consumption from a single third country
The CRM Act aims to reduce the administrative burden and streamlining permitting procedures for critical raw materials projects while ensuring a high social and environmental protection standard. The selected strategic projects will benefit from support for access to finance and shorter permitting procedures. See https://single-market-economy.ec.europa.eu/sectors/raw-materials/areas-specific-interest/critical-raw-materials/critical-raw-materials-act_en for further information.
With the current lack of commercial scale graphite anode materials production within the EU, Grafintec’s GAMP development in the GigaVaasa area is believed to fulfil the requirements for classification as a strategic project. Grafintec is assessing the procedure for the GAMP to be selected as a strategic project. Classification as a strategic project would enable the GAMP to take advantage of access to support for financing and streamlined permitting procedures which will enable the company to meet its goals to be in production by 2027.
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