Kearney mine gets the go-ahead to reopen – by Jeff Green (Toronto Star – May 14, 2013)

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80 jobs will be brought to the “biggest little town” on the western edge of Algonquin Park. Electric car and fears of capped exports by Chinese mines have brought new life into the “biggest little town” of Kearney, Ontario.

On Monday, Ontario Graphite Inc. announced it has final approval to re-commission the Kearney graphite mine, on the western edge of Algonquin Park, which could be up and running by November.

“Everyone’s excited about the growth of the battery industry and specifically, electric vehicles,” said Simon Moores, graphite industry expert and manager at Industrial Minerals Data. “That’s what’s driving the renewed interest in the last two years.”

Roughly 80 jobs — 60 to 65 of which the company says will be sourced locally — will process one million tonnes of ore into 20,000 tonnes of high-grade, large flake graphite. It would make it the largest graphite mine in North America, producing more graphite than the only other Canadian mines, in B.C. and Quebec, combined.

Interest in the mine wasn’t renewed until prices jumped in 2010. Privately-owned Ontario Graphite Inc. applied to re-commission the mine that December, and got the final approval from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment last week.

Canada’s graphite mining industry had one foot in the grave when China flooded the market in the early 90s. The Kearney mine closed in 1994 when prices plummeted from roughly $1,120 to $400 per tonne.

“It kind of undercut everyone,” Moores said of the Chinese push, adding the current price for Kearney graphite would be approximately $1,500 per tonne.

China capped production on the smallest flake graphite, a low-quality graphite known as amorphous, with hopes domestic companies will add value to the product instead of “selling potential,” Moores said.

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