Battery Minerals has plenty of other options after a key investor pulled out of a planned $US30 million ($40.5 million) investment needed to bring its first graphite mine into production, managing director David Flanagan says.
Private equity firm Resource Capital Funds withdrew from the graphite market in June, saying the commodity no longer met its investment criteria.
That left Battery Minerals with a big funding gap for its Montepuez project in Mozambique, where construction of roads, an accommodation camp and a tailings dam is underway.
“RCF will tell you sometimes they get it wrong,” Mr Flanagan told AAP at the Diggers and Dealers mining conference in Kalgoorlie on Monday.
“After they backed out, we’ve had half a dozen groups put their hand up and say ‘count us in the syndicate’ and we’ve appointed Origin capital to go through that now.
Mr Flanagan has experience in Africa, having worked there early in his career as a geologist.
His ability to raise capital and do deals was on display with Atlas Iron, which he founded in 2004 and left in 2016.
Atlas last week became majority owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting after a bidding war with Fortescue Metals Group and Mineral Resources.
Mr Flanagan said it was “overwhelmingly bittersweet” seeing Atlas snapped up.
But he is enthusiastic about moving into the rechargeable battery space, saying his children would be proud of him if he did more than “digging holes”.
By the end of this year, Battery Minerals will have spent $18 million ($US13.3 million) constructing the Montepuez project and needs to spend $51 million ($US38 million) more to get it into production.
This will take about 14 months after fresh investment capital is secured, Mr Flanagan said.
“It’s only about a quarter of the way there but we’re completely convinced of the merits of the project,” he said.
The company planned to go from “a walk to a jog” with graphite, and look at other battery minerals after proving itself to the market, he said.