THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 02/05/13 -- Zenyatta Ventures Ltd. ("Zenyatta" or "Company") (TSX VENTURE: ZEN) is pleased to announce the following significant results from a second series of beneficiation tests conducted at SGS Canada Inc. ("Lakefield") on samples from its 100% owned Albany graphite deposit. Trials using two different leaching processes both yielded results exceeding the target of greater than 99.0% Carbon ("C").
One process yielded 99.7% C while another different and cheaper process yielded an exceptional purity of 99.96% C. This is further confirmation of earlier mineralogical studies that showed the Albany 'vein-type' graphite material to be of high quality and containing minor amounts of impurities. The ability to produce a natural graphite product equivalent in purity to the highest grade synthetic graphite using low-cost conventional processing techniques will allow Zenyatta to target the growing market in high value-added graphite applications.
Aubrey Eveleigh, President and CEO stated, "Achieving these ultra-high purity carbon values at such an early stage from a simple and relatively inexpensive process is truly remarkable. This large 'vein-type' graphite deposit appears to be 'one of a kind' globally in both size and quality." Eveleigh also stated, "With accelerated global interest in the Albany graphite deposit, Zenyatta will continue to discuss the merits of the project with potential strategic partners, including graphite end-users."
Natural graphite material has varying levels of quality depending on the type (vein, flake or amorphous). The degree of purity can vary greatly, which heavily influences the use of the material in applications and its pricing. Carbon purity of natural graphite can generally range from 70.0% all the way to 99.0%, whereas synthetic graphite is usually greater than 99.0%. Given the ultra-high purity at Zenyatta's Albany project, the Company will be positioning the material to compete in the $13 billion (1.5 million tonnes annually) synthetic market.
Synthetic graphite is significantly more expensive to make but commands the highest market prices due to its purity. It can cost $4000 - $5000 per tonne (99.5% purity) to produce but can be sold for $7000 - $9000 per tonne. Ultra-high purity (99.9%) graphite can demand a price of $20,000 - $30,000 per tonne. Processing and purification of natural graphite has improved greatly in recent years and projects with initial high purity graphite, like the Albany vein-type, require less purification and therefore lower cost to produce.
Synthetic graphite producers are faced with escalating energy costs associated with turning petroleum coke into graphite. Petroleum coke is the solid waste remaining after refining oil. To turn petroleum coke into graphite requires extensive thermal treatment (up to 3000 degrees C), in various steps, to burn off impurities and re-arrange graphite layers. Not only is this energy intensive but also an environmental issue. Another big concern for synthetic producers is the diminishing supply of petroleum (needle) coke derived from low sulfur, sweet crude oil. Therefore, natural high purity graphite is gaining traction over synthetic graphite for many applications due to lower cost of production. Also, natural graphite has superior qualities such as higher specific capacity and less porosity.
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