Syrah Resources has announced the restart of operations at the Battery Anode Material (BAM) plant in Louisiana, USA, which was suspended from 23 March 2020 following control measures implemented in Louisiana to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Operating protocols have been designed to enable the safe restart of operations from 1 May 2020 (GMT-5).
Upon commencement, minor repairs to the plant will be completed to enable final process and product specification optimisation required to produce samples of anode precursor material (purified spherical graphite) for qualification with potential customers.
Dispatch of anode precursor material to potential customers for product qualification will be an important milestone in the progression of Syrah’s strategy to establish a position as the only vertically integrated supplier of natural graphite anode material outside of China.
Currently 100% of all anode precursor material into the lithium ion battery supply chain is manufactured in China.
Ex-China AAM producers in Korea and Japan are therefore wholly reliant on China for supply of natural graphite anode precursor material.
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This in-turn means ex-China battery cell manufacturers in Japan, Korea, the USA and Europe are therefore reliant on China for their anode supply chains.
The reliance of the global battery supply chain on China for supply of critical lithium ion battery materials was starkly evident in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis.
Although COVID-19 shutdowns were initially confined to China, they impacted the entire supply chain as 80%+ of world’s auto supply chain is connected to China.
Numerous Electric Vehicle manufacturers paused production as early as February due to battery supply shortages.
Syrah aims to provide an alternate and complementary supply of anode material to existing China supply to meet growing demand and to provide an option for geographic diversification for ex-China anode supply chains.
Production of qualification samples of AAM is planned during H2 2020 via: installation of a pilot scale coating plant and furnace at Vidalia; and, by toll treatment of precursor produced from Vidalia to AAM.
The Feasibility Study for the scale-up of the Vidalia facility post product qualification continued to progress during the period of suspended operations.