Aus­tralia’s Mar­gosa be­gins air­borne sur­vey of graphite de­posits in Sri Lanka

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

Aus­tralia-based Mar­gosa Graphite Ltd (Mar­gosa), to­gether with Lanka Re­sources and Min­ing (Pvt.) Ltd (LRM) an­nounced that it would com­mence an ex­ten­sive high-res­o­lu­tion he­li­copter­borne time-do­main elec­tro­mag­netic sur­vey (HT­DEM) to ac­cel­er­ate its ex­plo­ration search for new graphite de­posits in Sri Lanka.

The HT­DEM sur­vey was for­merly in­tro­duced by Mar­gosa Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Peter Venn at a func­tion held in Colombo re­cently, at­tended by the of­fi­cials of the Ma­haweli De­vel­op­ment and En­vi­ron­ment and De­fence Min­istries, Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey and Mines Bu­reau (GSMB), Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity, Air Force, Air Senok and other dig­ni­taries.

Venn also an­nounced that all nec­es­sary ap­provals have been re­ceived from the GSMB and Sri Lanka’s Ma­haweli De­vel­op­ment and En­vi­ron­ment and De­fence Min­istries.

Mar­gosa has com­mis­sioned in­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected geo­phys­i­cal com­pany, New Res­o­lu­tion Geo­physics, to carry out the high­res­o­lu­tion HT­DEM sur­vey, us­ing its re­cently de­vel­oped and lead­ing edge ‘Xcite’ air­borne elec­tro­mag­netic tech­nol­ogy.

The Xcite HT­DEM utilises a light-weight in­flat­able loop, roughly 18 me­tres in di­am­e­ter, which acts as a car­rier for the sys­tem. The loop is se­curely fas­tened and sus­pended ap­prox­i­mately 30 me­tres be­low a he­li­copter that flies 60-90 me­tres above the ground. The trans­mit­ter loop in­duces an elec­tro­mag­netic field that mea­sures the three-di­men­sional vari­a­tions in con­duc­tiv­ity within the near sur­face soil and rock.

“The in­vis­i­ble mag­netic field cre­ated in the process is harm­less to the peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment,” stressed LRM Chair­man Varuna Mallawaarachchi.

Weather per­mit­ting, this HT­DEM sur­vey is due to com­mence within seven days, will take up to four weeks to com­plete and will see av­er­age fly­ing times of four to six hours per day.

Air Senok, a highly re­spected Sri Lankan avi­a­tion con­trac­tor, will op­er­ate the AS350B Euro­copters, which will also in­clude NRG pi­lots on­board each flight.

The most com­monly mined forms of graphite are flake or amor­phous. Sri Lanka’s vein or lump graphite is unique be­cause of its high grades (90-99 per­cent Cg) and su­pe­rior phys­i­cal prop­er­ties. These qual­i­ties make this vein prod­uct much sought af­ter in the mar­ket and as such it re­tains a higher value when com­pared to these other forms of graphite.

Sri Lanka has ex­ported its graphite to Asia, Europe and the USA for over 150 years with peaks in pro­duc­tion be­tween 1870 and 1918 and later dur­ing World War II. Sri Lanka re­mains the only coun­try in the world to pro­duce com­mer­cial vein graphite but cur­rently in low quan­ti­ties (~8000 tonnes per year) from only two or three un­der­ground mines and Mar­gosa has a clear vi­sion to re­build the in­dus­try through the ap­pli­ca­tion of mod­ern ex­plo­ration and mine de­vel­op­ment tech­niques.

To this end, it has strong tech­ni­cal board and man­age­ment team, each with over 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in ex­plo­ration and mine de­vel­op­ment in Aus­tralia, Africa and Asia.

Mar­gosa and Sri Lankan sub­sidiary LRM have been ex­plor­ing and ac­quir­ing highly prospec­tive graphite ten­e­ments in Sri Lanka since 2012. The com­pany has 10 pro­ject ar­eas cov­er­ing 253 square kilo­me­tres in the Ka­lu­tara, Rat­na­pura, Ke­galle and Matara Districts. This ini­tial HDTEM sur­vey will be con­ducted over their Pathakada, Aluketiya, Dum­bara, Kithul­gala, Wa­haraka, and De­hiowita projects, which the com­pany con­sid­ers as its Pri­or­ity 1 tar­get ar­eas.

Mar­gosa and LRM pi­o­neered the use of mod­ern elec­tro­mag­netic (EM) sur­vey­ing to ex­plore for graphite in Sri Lanka and early ground EM ex­plo­ration over rel­a­tively small ar­eas iden­ti­fied mul­ti­ple tar­gets on their Aluketiya and Pathakada prop­er­ties. These ar­eas were sub­se­quently drilled, in­ter­sect­ing nu­mer­ous graphite veins, pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary proof that EM was an ex­cel­lent ex­plo­ration tool for vein graphite. Now with strong fund­ing sup­port from Aus­tralia, the com­pany be­lieves that the NRG Xcite HT­DEM sys­tem will quickly and ef­fi­ciently de­liver drill-ready tar­gets.

“This Proof of Con­cept has led us to in­vest over A$ 500,000 in the largest (up to1700 line km) Air­borne EM Sur­vey to dis­cover the next gen­er­a­tion of Sri Lankan graphite de­posits,” said Mar­gosa Chair­man John Shack­le­ton.

The de­mand for graphite con­tin­ues to sur­pass sup­ply es­pe­cially with the surge in lithium ion bat­tery ap­pli­ca­tions. Fur­ther, in his address on Fri­day, Venn quoted Roskill’s 2017 pub­lished re­port ‘Nat­u­ral and Syn­thetic Graphite: Global In­dus­try, Mar­kets and Out­look to 2026’, which fore­casts that to­tal global graphite de­mand in bat­tery ap­pli­ca­tions will in­crease be­tween 16-26 per­cent per year to 2026.

In ad­di­tion to the bat­tery mar­ket, Venn also com­mented, “The num­ber of new tech­no­log­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions re­quir­ing high­qual­ity graphite is ever ex­pand­ing in ar­eas such as aero­space in­dus­tries, elec­tron­ics, fuel cells and most re­cently sea­wa­ter fil­tra­tion-de­sali­na­tion. Ex­cit­ing new re­search into spher­i­cal and ex­pand­able graphite will also de­mand a high-grade prod­uct with few im­pu­ri­ties, which Sri Lankan vein graphite pro­vides.”

What the Xcite ex­plo­ration will look like Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Mar­gosa Graphite Peter Venn

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