By Joseph Hanlon
With Chinese money, the Australian Triton Minerals will go ahead with its Ancuabe, Cabo Delgado, graphite mine, it announced on 1 December. In September Shandong Yulong Gold committed a further investment of $3.4 mn and visited and approved the project on 22 November. Shandong Yulong appears to be part held by state and provincial companies in Shandong and part by private Chinese investors.
Triton Ancuabe is adjacent to the producing German-owned AMG Graphit Kropfmuhl (GK) graphite mine, 80 km west of Pemba. Both were attacked by insurgents in June and development work suspended.
Triton in a 2017 proposal said the mine would be so hugely profitable that it would pay back all its construction costs in just 3.7 years, and have a rate of return (IRR) of 37%. Constructions costs would be $100 mn, and it would have a net profit of $1.2 bn (before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization – EBITDA) over the life of the project. More than $200 mn would be paid in taxes, the proposal claimed.
Graphite is essential for the anode of lithium ion batteries. The battery is charged by moving lithium ions from the cathode to the anode, where the ions are stored in spaces in the graphite structure. Thus graphite is in increasing demand for electric cars and other non-fossil-fuel systems. Suddenly Cabo Delgado is of high interest to the US and China. The US is subsidising Syrah, further west in Balama, to open a factory in Louisiana, in the US, to manufacture the anodes.
Anodes are not complicated and could be manufactured in Mozambique. But none of these mines will produce anything more than refined graphite to ship to China, US and Europe for processing – because the government has never demanded they create manufacturing jobs.
The original mining concessions was granted to Grafex, owned by Edson Tomas Sixpense and Dercio Lionel Alexandre Chiziane, who sold it to Triton in 2014.
http://tritonminerals.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/20221201-Triton-Re-commits-to-Large-Scale-Development-of-Ancuabe.pdf and https://www.tritonminerals.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/17_12_15_Ancuabe_Definitive_Feasibility_900.pdf
The Chinese mining company DH Mining is opening a graphite mine in Nipepe, Niassa. In 2019 the DH Mining contract was suspended due to lack of consultations with local people and lack of an environmental study, but was later able to resume. Equipment arrived this year from China. Triton is also expected to import equipment from China.