The Tesla Model S lithium-own battery uses 100kg of graphite
The Tesla Model S lithium-own battery uses 100kg of graphite

Massive graphite discovery could be on the cards for NQ

GRAPHITE is a mineral of immense potential and value - its purer forms sought out for use in mobile phone technologies and the batteries that power the new wave of electric cars.

And there could be a heap of it in north-west Queensland.

Metallica Minerals has been drilling holes at its "Esmeralda Project" south of Croydon - west of Cairns - in the hope of better understanding whether the graphite below is worth pursuing.

On Thursday, a carefully-worded release to the ASX hinted at what Metallica's explorers hope to find.

The company was "extremely encouraged" by the results, according to Metallica chief Simon Slesarewich.

He said the drilling provided "the first hard evidence that Esmeralda hosts an extensive and high-grade deposit".

In the world of graphite extraction, where a tonne can be worth between $500 and $20,000, high grade could mean anything.

By comparison, a tonne of Central Queensland coal used for energy from is worth less than $100 per tonne.

Mr Slesarewich told Australian Regional Media that while the results were preliminary, they also marked "a fantastic start".

This Esmeralda project features a "hydrothermal-type" deposit. Without needing to delve into the technical nature of the term, it can indicate a purer form of mineral.

So how much graphite is down there?

The two drill holes are 1km apart on a 750sqkm expanse.

"We believe it's the same type of rock," he said.

"It has the potential to be very large."

Later this month Metallica will know more about the graphite it has already drilled, as results filter in.

In the ASX release, Mr Slesarewich compares Esmeralda's potential to "the globally renowned Albany project in Ontario, Canada".

That project is thought to have 25.1 million tonnes of average grade graphite, according to owners Zenyatta.

Mr Slesarewich added that deposits like Esmeralda "are often characterised by high-purity graphite in either flake or crystalline form".