MAPUTO — Australian mining company Battery Minerals, formerly known as Metals of Africa, says it has been granted a mining licence for its Montepuez graphite project in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.

The company said inn a statement it now has in place all the conditions to begin production by the end of this year. When exports begin early next year the company hopes to be shipping between 45,000 and 50,000 tonnes per year of graphite concentrate.

In phase two, production will increase to at least 100,000 tonnes per year, according to Battery Minerals, which said it had passed another major milestone in its path to becoming a significant graphite supplier to the lithium battery industry.

Battery Minerals Managing Director David Flanagan stressed his gratitude to the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Max Tonela, and his staff for granting our Mining Licence and their efficient processing of our Mining Licence application.

The company has already signed four binding off-take agreements for up to 41,000 tonnes per annum of graphite concentrate. The graphite will be trucked to the port of Pemba where it will be shipped to market.

When operational, the project will create more than 170 local jobs. The project has an expected mine life of 20 years.

Graphite is a form of carbon which is highly valued because of its properties as a conductor of electricity. It is used in batteries and fuel cells and is the basis for the miracle material graphene, which is the strongest material ever measured, with vast potential for use in the electronics industries.

The company expects there to be a global shortage of graphite from 2020 because of a huge increase in demand for electric vehicles and rechargeable batteries.