VANCOUVER — With just 28 drill holes, Graphite One Resources (TSXV: GPH; US-OTC: GPHOF) has defined the largest known high-grade flake graphite deposit in North America.
In early 2012 Graphite One signed a deal with the private owners of the historic Graphite Creek project on Alaska’s Seward peninsula to earn full ownership, in exchange for $425,000 in staged payments, a 5% production royalty and a $1.3-million work commitment. By the end of the first year the company had drilled 18 holes and defined a 165-million-tonne inferred resource stretching along 2.2 km of strike.
In 2013 the company drilled another 10 holes — and boosted the resource count by 68%. Graphite Creek is now home to 284.7 million inferred tonnes grading 4.5% graphitic carbon, for a contained graphite count of 12.8 million tonnes. The near-surface, high-grade core of the deposit contains 37.7 million inferred tonnes averaging 9.2% graphitic carbon.
The resource stretches almost continuously along 4.8 km of strike. That represents less than a third of the associated electromagnetic anomaly, which strikes for 18 km. The deposit averages 230 metres wide and 320 metres deep.
“The continuity of the mineralization and simple geologic structures at Graphite Creek allow us to grow our resource to an impressive size with little drilling,” said Dean Besserer, vice-president of exploration.
The graphite at Graphite Creek is high purity and large flake. In early metallurgical tests in 2012, material from the property produced a rough concentrate that graded 99.2% carbon. Graphite One’s goal would be to produce graphite for lithium-ion batteries, which require 99.9% carbon. A 99.2% rough concentrate could easily be upgraded to 99.9%.
This year the company plans to complete an infill-drilling program to bring as much of the resource as possible into the measured and indicated categories. Once that is complete Graphite One can begin a preliminary economic assessment.
Graphite Creek is also well located, sitting in sight of tidewater on the Seward peninsula. During the First World War the project produced 500 tons of graphite, which was simply hauled by tractor downhill to a barge and shipped out.
On news of the resource estimate shares gained half a cent to close at 14.5¢. Graphite One has a 52-week share price range of 7.5¢ to 26.5¢, and 118 million shares outstanding.
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