Mine ready for workers to start

GRAPHITE: Valence Industries chief executive officer Christopher Darby with a stockpile of graphite at the Uley Graphite Mine.
GRAPHITE: Valence Industries chief executive officer Christopher Darby with a stockpile of graphite at the Uley Graphite Mine.
GRAPHITE: Valence Industries chief executive officer Christopher Darby at the Uley Graphite Mine.

GRAPHITE: Valence Industries chief executive officer Christopher Darby at the Uley Graphite Mine.

WORK will start in coming weeks on restarting the Uley Graphite Mine at Sleaford.

After delays in getting the mine up and running due to company restructures, Valence Industries, formerly Strategic Graphite, will issue tender and job advertisements in the next week for work at the mine.

Valence chief executive officer Christopher Darby said there would be an emphasis on processing and manufacturing experience, and the company would be looking for employees who have experience with computerised systems, as the processing plant to be built at the site will be highly automated.

The $34 million plant has been designed and construction will start mid next year, and will allow Valence to increase graphite production to 50,000 tonnes of graphite a year.

Jobs will include work on and off-site with equipment being delivered and installed during January and February.

Mr Darby said his aim was to have as many local tenders involved as possible.

He said the world-class product was already attracting buyers from across the globe.

"We've been talking to a number of new customers in the last two weeks, including Australia, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey, the US and Canada.

"We've also had enquiries from people who want to buy it in China, which is interesting as China is the largest supplier of graphite to the world, so it must be good quality."

The first product will be shipped in the first quarter of 2014.

The mine already has a stockpile of processed graphite from previous mining that will only require cleaning before it is shipped.

Valence will then process 74,000 tonnes of raw material before it starts to mine the rest of the resource.

The company has identified 6.4 million tonnes of graphite-containing earth.

"We've only drilled to 100 metres, so there's likely to be more."

He said the community had nothing to fear in terms of transport issues, as there would only be about five trucks a week leaving the mine, with the product in quality-controlled shipping containers packaged on site.