Syrah Resources began production of purified spherical graphite at its battery anode component plant in Vidalia, Louisiana, United States, using ore mined in Balama, Mozambique, the Australian group said in a market statement.

“This is a significant milestone in the development of the Vidalia plant and in the execution of the group’s strategy of achieving a vertically integrated production model [from extraction to marketing] of battery anode components,” the statement said.

Shaun Verner, the group’s chief executive, also said that the start of production at the US plant is an complementary and alternative source to battery anodes that are produced in China, “being the first full-scale, fully integrated production facility outside from China.”

This announcement comes after the group reported last October that it would immediately cut about 30% of its workforce at the graphite mine in the Balama district of Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique.

The market filing also said that there would be a reconfiguration of existing mining and ore processing models, as well as a reduction in the management structure of the mining operation in Mozambique.

All of these cost reduction projects are a result of the current state of the graphite market and the group’s Board of Directors intends to save between 20% and 25% of the US$9 million forecast for the entire Balama operation in 2019.

Syrah Resources operates in Mozambique through its subsidiary Twigg Exploration and Mining Limitada.

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