The project received the environmental impact assessment certificate in May 2015 making it the first Tanzanian graphite mine to receive the certificate since the historic Graphtan graphite mine at Mirelani.
Ministry of Energy and Minerals granted the mining licence for the project in July 2015 and construction is expected to start in the first half of this year, while mining operations are expected to begin by early 2017.
The project is expected to produce 40,000 tonnes a year of high-grade graphite flake concentrate for the first 15 years, over its mine life of 25 years.
The graphite mine is hosted within a quartz-feldspar-carbonate graphitic schist, which is part of a Neoproterozoic metasediment package, including marble and gneissic units. The deposit is categorised into two graphitic schist zones namely the East Zone and the West Zone.
Graphitic mineralisation is hosted within a graphitic schist along the mine strike continuity within the license area. Metallurgical characteristics, principally flake size, are available on a consistent basis in the outcrop, trench exposure and diamond drill core at numerous locations within the license area.
The Epanko graphite mine is estimated to contain proven and probable ore reserves of 10.9 million metric tonnes (Mt) at a total graphitic carbon (TGC) grade of 8.6%. The mine is anticipated to contain 938,000 tonnes of graphite.
The measured, indicated and inferred resources are estimated to be 23.3Mt grading 9.4 percent TGC, whereas contained graphite is estimated to be 2.19Mt.
Graphite is a naturally-occurring form of crystalline carbon which is extremely soft, cleaves with very light pressure and has a very low specific gravity but in contrast, it is extremely resistant to heat. These extreme properties give it a wide range of uses in metallurgy and manufacturing.