Renascor offers hope in drought country

A WINDSWEPT paddock on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia could offer a drought-affected community a lifeline with explorer Renascor Resources’ planned 142,000 tonne per year graphite operation at the Siviour deposit expected to bring more than 100 jobs to the region.
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Drilling at Siviour

Believed to be the fifth-largest reported reserve in the world, the Siviour deposit is on a farm owned by the Siviour family, near the coastal hamlet of Arno Bay.

Renascor is working on a definitive feasibility study for the project, which is expected to be released in the first quarter.

The company has two options for a 30-year flake graphite mine at Siviour: either go large with a 142,000 tonne per year operation or do a two-stage development that produces 22,800tpa for the first three years before ramping up to 156,000tpa.

Renascor will also look at the viability of producing spherical graphite, which is used to make lithium-ion batteries.

While flake graphite is fetching between $1134 and $2551 per tonne, spherical graphite is more lucrative, at about $5102.

The region is crying out for investment to shade it from the effects of the drought, which is affecting parts of, but not the whole area.

About 10-15% of the state is officially in drought, including parts of the Eyre Peninsula which has the primary industries of agriculture, manufacturing, fishing, tourism and mining.

Farmers talk of an invisible line running across the peninsula just north of Arno Bay that the rain never crosses, which explains why some farmers do better than others.

On a visit to the site last week, visitors saw firsthand how discriminate the drought actually is, with patches of green interspaced by big swathes of sand over dusty and sweeping plains.

According to Renascor project manager Andrew Reeves, the Siviours just broke even this year while neighbours to the north had a good season.

The flat-lying and shallow Siviour resource sits just 2m below the surface in a back paddock on the farm.

The resource has been estimated to contain 80.6 million tonnes at 7.9% total graphite carbon for 6.4 million tonnes of contained graphite, with a probable reserve of 45.2Mt at 7.9% graphitic carbon content (TGC) for 3.6Mt of contained graphite.

Renascor found Siviour after scouring results of a 10-year-old airborne geophysical survey done by a uranium explorer, which pointed to a big anomaly in the area.

Drilling subsequently uncovered the massive graphite deposit there.

Renascor bought the rights to the land in question last year and is working toward buying the land outright from the Siviour family if/when the project goes ahead.

Construction could start as early as the end of the year if funding was secured for project construction, Renascor managing director David Christensen said, which would lead to way for the mine to start operating late in 2020.

There will be about 100 jobs on offer at Siviour once the mine is in full swing, and Renascor hopes to fill most of these roles with locals.

Reeves said the company was hoping to recruit local farmers because farmers made the best workers.