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  • Graphite
  • Mines Producing Graphite

Graphite got its name from Abraham Werner in 1789 because of its ability to be used for writing and drawing. It is an extension of the Greek work 'grapho' which means to draw or write. Graphite is most widely known as being the 'lead' in lead pencils, although its use in pencils only make up for seven percent of its total world wide usage.

Graphite is the Highest Grade of Coal
Graphite is also the most stable form of carbon under normal atmospheric conditions, a feature which actually makes it the highest grade of coal, despite it being very difficult to ignite. It is therefore not found to be useful as a fuel as have the lower grades of carbon such as black and brown coal.

Graphite, an Allotrope of Coal, is a Good Conductor of Electricity
Graphite is one of the eight 'allotropes of carbon' but unlike diamond, another carbon allotrope, it is a good conductor of electricity and for this reason it is commonly used as arc lamp electrodes. There are three main types of natural graphite with each one found in different types of ore, these are as follows:
1. Lump graphite – a natural graphite that is often referred to as 'vein graphite.' This type of natural graphite occurs in fractures or fissure veins and most likely to be hydrothermal in its origins. This form of graphite, in its synthetic form, is used in scientific research. The name graphic fibre is used to describe carbon fibre reinforced polymer of carbon fibre.
2. Amorphous graphite – a type of natural graphite that occurs as fine particles as a result of the thermal metamorphism of coal in its final stage of coalification. Users of very fine flake graphite often refer to it as being amorphous.
3. Crystalline flake graphite – usually referred to as 'flake graphite.' this type of graphite occurs with isloated, plate like particles containing hexagonal edges, however, when broken the edges can become angular or irregular.

Graphite's Many Uses
Natural graphite is, in the main, used in the making of certain lubricants, foundry facings, automotive brake linings, expanded graphite, steelmaking, batteries and refactories. Graphine, that occurs naturally in graphite, has certain physical properties that many believe make it the strongest substance known, however, it is currently not economically feasible to use it as such in any industrial process as it still requires considerable technological development.

Australia's Only Graphite Mine Re-opened in 2014
Australia only has one graphite mine and this is the Uley mine owned and operated by Valence Industries, 23 kilometres from Port Lincoln in South Australia. The Uley graphite mine has, up until 2014, been on care and maintenance since 1993. Graphite was discovered there in the 1800's. It is proposed to employ around 40 personnel at the re-furbished mine site. Initial graphite production at the Uley mine will come from the processing of existing stockpiles of graphite bearing ore at the mine site, while awaiting the construction of a new processing plant that, when completed, will process between 50,000 and 60,000 tonnes of ore annually.

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