Tirupati Graphite plc (LON:TGR) Executive Chairman Shishir Poddar caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the installation and commission of its first 9,000 tpa flake graphite module, how this will improve costs, planned capacity in Madagascar, outlook for the company and what investors should be looking out for.
Tirupati Graphite is a fully integrated specialist graphite and graphene producer with operations in Madagascar and India. Now, the company announced completion of the installation and commissioning of its first 9,000 tpa flake graphite module. Joining me today to discuss the news is Executive Chairman and Managing Director, Shishir Poddar.
Q1: As mentioned, you advised this week that the company had completed the installation and commissioning of the first 9,000 tpa flake graphite module at one of your projects in Madagascar. Shishir, can you just talk us through the highlights?
A1: So, this is another very big, important event in our development process. As you rightly said, we have two projects in Madagascar, the other one which is the Sahamamy project, we had built a 3,000 tonne plant there and that’s been up and running. Now, the second project also we built our first module of 9,000 tonnes, we have upscaled the capacity from 6,000 to 9,000 earlier this year and we worked and built this.
This exercise in the midst of further time that has passed, we did have certain limitations in logistics and movement of people has happened in a very good timeline also. The second thing is that it brings both projects into operation and onstream for development to the 84,000 tonne capacity that we plan.
So, this shows our ability to build plants, to make them operational, and to progress according to the plan that we have created for our projects.
Q2: How does this improve production costs?
A2: Well, it’s simple. So, earlier we just had a small 3,000 plant, now we have a bigger plant of 9,000 tonne capacity so basically what happens when you’re increasing capacity, you use larger equipment size. However, basically the plant design remains the same, the process remains similar.
So, in this plant, we will have more production, using a similar number of people that we use in our existing facility so we get the advantage of cost. We’ve already demonstrated our cost advantages from the Sahamamy operations, which is just 3,000 tons, this plant will have possibly a better unit per tonne of production cost compared to Sahamamy because it’s three times bigger in size.
Q3: What’s the total planned capacity in Madagascar and are you on track?
A3: Yes, so we are now at 12,000 tonnes capacity in Madagascar. We, as per our medium term development plan, are growing to 84,000, four more plants of 18,000 tonnes each we will be coming up over the next three years.
First of the four 18,000 tonne plant is already under construction so that we expect to start next year, we are targeting March, it will depend a bit on how the logistics and other things play around, barring a bit here and there we are on track to reach the March expected timeline.
After that, three more plants will come up in succession so that’s how we are developing step-by-step in modules.
Q4: How do you view the outlook for the company?
A4: Well, it’s simple, what is the company trying to do?
It’s trying to build a world leader in the flake graphite space. Primary projects in Madagascar and we recently announced the acquisition that we have been in the process of calculating so a second location in Mozambique. To build capacities sufficient to meet the global demands that is upcoming thanks to so many areas of application which have big growth trajectories. Downstream in India, building capacity so that we can meet the high-tech arenas demands and working on graphene and advanced materials.
So, a fully integrated graphite and graphene company, that’s what we are building and that’s what the company is focused at.
Q5: Finally, is there anything else that investors should be looking out for over the coming months from Tirupati Graphite?
A5: Well, we are a progressive company, we are producing, we are selling, we are developing, we are adding capacity so related to these and you also saw us getting into the expansion by organic acquisition mechanisms.
So, while all these activities will continue, all the developments will continue, it is our thought that we should keep the markets updated of how we are going ahead and what we are able to achieve step by step. In this trajectory, we’ll find a lot of announcements as you can see from our history, we keep updating the markets and there are many things to come.
Even, on the exploration side, our second stage exploration is going on in Madagascar, we expect to add to our resources there also so there are so many things on the advanced materials side, on the downstream products side, on the market engagement side, on the building of new capacities side, operations of existing capacity side, all that. There’s a lot.