Located approximately 20km east of LKAB's iron ore mine and railhead at Svappavaara, the Vittangi graphite project (containing the Nunasvaara deposit) has a total JORC resource of 12.3Mt at 25.5% graphite ("Cg"), the highest resource grade of any JORC/NI 43-101 graphite deposit in the world. Nunasvaara has been declared a mineral deposit of national interest by the Swedish Geological Survey, providing benefits against competing land uses.
Nunasvaara forms part of the Vittangi project which comprises multiple exploration permits covering more than 400km2. Historical work across the Vittangi project identified extensive graphite as well as numerous skarn iron deposits and copper sulphide occurrences.
The Vittangi graphite deposits were first discovered in 1898, with trenching across the Nunasvaara deposit during 1916-18. Early work during the 1920s reviewed the possibility of using the graphite as a reducing agent in the production of pig iron, and Nunasvaara was declared a state mining field in 1929. Extensive work, including geophysics, trenching, core drilling (20 holes for 949m) and bulk sampling, was conducted by the SGU and LKAB during the period 1970-1982. This work defined an initial (non-JORC) resource of 1.1Mt @ 27.8% Cg, to a depth of 70m using a 25% Cg lower cut-off.
During July 2012 Talga undertook a diamond drilling program at the Nunasvaara deposit, drilling 19 holes for 1697m. This led to the calculation of a new JORC 2004 compliant resource of 7.6Mt @ 24.4% Cg, with 5.6Mt @ 24.6% Cg classified Indicated. Since then, Talga utilised new data from drilling in 2014 and trial mining undertaken in 2015 and 2016 to update the previous resource from JORC 2004 status to JORC 2012. The updated JORC 2012 compliant Indicated and Inferred mineral resource estimate for Vittangi now totals 12.3Mt @ 25.5% Cg, based on a 17% Cg lower cut-off.
Future mining of this resource will be aided by its exceptional grade and open-pit bulk mining option. It is favourably located, being only 3km to grid power and the highest load rated road in Europe (Svappavaara-Vittangi Highway). Furthermore it is only 15km to the town of Vittangi, and 23km to the town and railhead at Svappavaara.
The Nunasvaara graphite unit extends over 15km of strike, of which less than 8% has been drill tested to date. Rock samples collected by Talga over this graphitic unit average 26.2% Cg, with grades up to 46.7% Cg encountered. Potential exists for a significant expansion of the resource base in the future.
In early 2014 a breakthrough in the processing pathway for Nunasvaara graphite demonstrated a simple and effective way to produce graphene in bulk quantitites during the same one-step process as used for graphite liberation. The method of mining and processing Nunasvaara becomes cheaper, with ore being quarried in solid blocks and processed without crushing/grinding yet liberating graphene nanoplatelets of high quality along with fine flake graphite. A scoping study was completed in 2014 to evaluate Nunasvaara as a stand-alone project supplying both graphite and graphene. The study showed the project has the potential to support a 20+ year mine life based on the 2014 JORC Indicated resource only, which has since been doubled.