Imerys Graphite & Carbon Expands Natural Graphite Production with a New Mine in Namibia
Earlier in 2016, Imerys Graphite & Carbon and Gecko Namibia formed a Joint Venture (JV) to develop the Namibian Otjiwarongo site, for the production of natural graphite that can be used in different applications, including refractories in steel ladles, basic oxygen furnaces (BOF) and electric arc furnaces (EAF). Hugues Jacquemin, Vice- President and General Manager of Imerys Graphite & Carbon, says: “This industry is growing. We are already a well-established player and we are expanding quickly, organically and by acquisition. This JV helps us better serve customers with the objective to increase our market share.”
The JV has purchased a former Solvay Fluorspar processing plant on site, which has been retrofitted to process graphite. This has brought advantages regarding investment, anticipation of production timings and important environmental benefits, since the existing structure was a good alternative to building a greenfield plant. Production in Namibia begins in early 2017 and product sampling is already available. The new product line is comparable to the one in use at Imerys Graphite & Carbon’s Lac-Des-Iles site in Canada. Both sources have very similar high quality ore, with abounding large flake content (+50 and + 80 mesh), easy to extract, process and deliver. With a commitment to sustainability, safety and continuous improvement, the JV in collaboration with its employees, contractors and the local community is working to create a viable, long-term presence in Namibia. As part of the structural actions at the base of Imerys’ operations, the corporate health and safety system has already been implemented, and all EHS initiatives are fully in-place.