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Tanzania’s graphite industry on the brink of major expansion with new project approvals

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Lindi Jumbo’s milestone

The Lindi Jumbo Graphite Mine, operated by Australian firm Walkabout Resources, marked a crucial milestone with its first shipment of graphite concentrate to Europe. The shipment, departing from Dar es Salaam under an exclusive agreement with Wogen, signifies a major step in the mine’s commissioning phase. Andrew Cunningham, the Managing Director and CEO of Walkabout Resources, emphasized the importance of this development in light of rising global demand for non-Chinese sources of graphite.

Market context and strategiciImplications

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This achievement is timely given the increased focus on supply chain security for critical minerals. With the United States imposing a 25% tariff on Chinese natural graphite and China enforcing export restrictions, the need for alternative suppliers has never been more pronounced. The Lindi Jumbo project not only meets this demand but also showcases Tanzania’s potential to fill the supply gap created by geopolitical tensions.

Bunyu graphite project: Commencement of production

Government and local impact

The Bunyu Graphite Project, owned by Volt Resources, is set to begin production after nearly a decade of anticipation. Announced by Deputy Minister for Minerals, Dr. Stephen Kiruswa, during a parliamentary session, this development signals a significant economic opportunity for Tanzania. The Bunyu project, located in Ndanda constituency, is poised to become one of the largest graphite operations globally.

Resource and infrastructure

The Bunyu deposit is vast, estimated at 461 million tons of ore with a graphite content of 4.9% TGC, which translates to 22.6 million tons of contained graphite. The project benefits from its strategic location near major infrastructure, including roads and the deep-water port of Mtwara, facilitating easy access to global markets.

Development phases

The project is planned in two stages: Stage 1 will produce 23,600 tons per annum (tpa) of flake graphite, while Stage 2 aims to expand production to 170,000 tpa. This phased approach allows for gradual scaling up and adaptation to market demand.

Global and local implications

Shift in global supply chain

The Bunyu and Lindi Jumbo projects are crucial in diversifying the global graphite supply chain, which is currently dominated by China, accounting for 75% of the world’s supply. The development of these projects aligns with global efforts to mitigate reliance on a single supplier and enhance the resilience of supply chains for critical minerals.

Economic and social benefits

Locally, these projects promise significant economic benefits through job creation and infrastructure development. The establishment of value-addition facilities will further enhance the economic impact, providing long-term benefits to surrounding communities. The government’s proactive stance and the involvement of international investors highlight Tanzania’s commitment to harnessing its natural resources for sustainable development.

Environmental and strategic importance

Given the pivotal role of graphite in lithium-ion batteries and other green technologies, Tanzania’s entry into the global graphite market supports broader environmental goals. By contributing to the supply of a key material for electric vehicles and renewable energy systems, Tanzania is positioned to play a vital role in the global transition to greener technologies.

Future Prospects

Market opportunities

The successful commencement of these projects offers Tanzania an opportunity to capitalize on the growing demand for graphite, driven by the rapid expansion of the electric vehicle market. The country’s strategic positioning and rich resource base make it a promising player in the global graphite market, potentially reducing the dominance of existing suppliers and ensuring a more balanced and secure supply chain.

Long-term impact

In the long term, these projects are expected to enhance Tanzania’s economic landscape, driving growth in the mining sector and fostering greater integration into the global economy. By aligning with global trends in clean energy and technology, Tanzania is poised to make significant contributions to both its own development and the global effort to combat climate change.

In summary, the announcements regarding the Lindi Jumbo and Bunyu graphite projects mark the beginning of a new chapter for Tanzania’s mining industry, with significant implications for both local development and the global graphite market.

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