Graphite prices fell in 2023, but the electric vehicle and energy storage revolution continues to pick up speed. This means market watchers are keeping an eye on the material, which is key for lithium-ion batteries.
A major factor experts are watching is China’s export restrictions on certain graphite products. They took effect on December 1, and require Chinese exporters to apply for special permits to ship the material to global markets.
Against that backdrop, a number of Canadian graphite stocks have seen strong year-to-date gains in 2023. Below is a look at the year’s top graphite stocks on the TSX and TSXV. Data was obtained on December 12, 2023, using TradingView’s stock screener, and all companies listed had market caps above C$10 million at that time.
1. Mason Resources (TSXV:LLG)
Year-to-date gain: 53.33 percent; market cap: C$31.08 million; current share price: C$0.23
Mason Resources, formerly Mason Graphite, is working to “develop vertical and horizontal integration in the mining industry,’ and its main focus is battery-related materials and their by-products. The company owns the Uatnan project in Québec, Canada, which it says is one of the world’s largest graphite deposits in development.
Mason is developing Uatnan, which contains the Lac Guéret deposit, with Nouveau Monde Graphite (TSXV:NOU,NYSE:NMG). The two companies announced an investment agreement in May 2022, and if it progresses as planned, they will form a joint venture for exploration, development and mining at the property. Under the agreement, the joint venture would have access to Nouveau Monde’s Phase 1 natural graphite flake concentrator plant in Québec.
Mason shot up at the beginning of the year after it released a preliminary economic assessment for Uatnan — its share price rose from C$0.22 overnight to a year-to-date high of C$0.42 by January 19. The document, which the company filed in March, shows annual graphite concentrate production of 500,000 metric tons (MT) over a 24 year life of mine.
Later that month, Mason shared the news that its 39 percent owned graphene company, Black Swan Graphene (TSXV:SWAN,OTCQB:BSWGF), had entered into a strategic partnership to accelerate the adoption of graphene-enhanced cement. Black Swan, which Mason spun out in 2022, was also in the news more recently, when it announced in mid-September the results of a scoping study for its large-scale Québec facility.
2. Volt Carbon Technologies (TSXV:VCT)
Year-to-date gain: 23.08 percent; market cap: C$14.31 million; current share price: C$0.08
Volt Carbon Technologies describes itself as a carbon science company that is focused on energy storage and the creation of green energy. It has mining claims in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Québec and BC.
Much of the company’s work in 2023 has centered on graphite purification. In May, Volt and Green Battery Minerals (TSXV:GEM,OTCQB:GBMIF) completed a graphite ore processing test using Volt’s dry separation technologies. According to the companies, preliminary results showed graphite grades of up to 93 percent based on thermogravimetric analysis provided by Volt’s lab. Green Battery CEO Thomas Yingling said the dry separation process helps eliminates waste without impacting flake size distribution. The firms entered into a preliminary mineral processing agreement on June 5.
In mid-August, Volt provided an update on its graphite purification work, saying that in the first seven months of the year it used its dry separation technologies on six distinct graphite rock samples from a variety of third-party graphite deposits in Ontario and Québec. While it said further testing and sampling were needed, the company noted that its technique was able to produce ‘an unprecedented level of graphitic carbon purity.’ In that same release, Volt also announced the receipt of a 27 MT graphitic bulk sample from Green Battery. As the year drew to a close, the company said on December 11 that it had started battery anode development using dry-separated graphite from Green Battery’s Berkwood property. Initial results show the material is suitable for lithium-ion batteries.
Other graphite-related news from Volt came in October and November. On October 26, the company signed a five year mineral processing agreement with E-Power Resources (CSE:EPR), and on November 17 it signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Charge CCCV. Volt and Charge CCCV also entered into a material transfer deal.
3. SRG Mining (TSXV:SRG)
Year-to-date gain: 4.48 percent; market cap: C$76.72 million; current share price: C$0.70
SRG Mining is developing its Lola graphite project in Guinea. The company’s goal is to support Europe’s lithium-ion battery and fuel cell markets by becoming a fully integrated battery anode material producer.
In February, SRG released an updated feasibility study for Lola, reporting an increase in annual production to 94,000 MT of flake graphite in concentrate over a 17 year mine life. The news did little to move the company’s share price, which stayed rangebound between C$0.54 and C$0.67 throughout the first five months of the year; however, it began climbing at the beginning of June, rising as high as C$0.89 at the end of the month and in the beginning of July.
July 10 brought news of a cooperation agreement between SRG and anode material producer Carbon ONE New Energy Group. Carbon ONE announced plans to acquire a 19.4 percent stake in SRG at a price of C$0.60 per share for C$16.9 million in gross proceeds for SRG. SRG said it will use the funds to advance Lola and accelerate development of an anode material plant that will have access to either the EU or North American markets — potentially both.
SRG released updates on the transaction later in July and at the end of October, before signing a non-binding term sheet with Carbon ONE on November 29. The companies believe the term sheet offers them both ‘substantial additional advantages’ compared to the original plan, and they are now working to close the deal.
Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.