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Renascor Resources (ASX:RNU) has announced its receipt of a $5M grant from Canberra to support the company’s $10M battery anode material (BAM) project.

The grant intends to fund 49.9% of RNU’s overall CapEx burden to get a demo processing plant off the ground seeking to produce spherical graphite.

Graphite needs to be spherical to be converted into a foil that is then used to improve electron flow in a battery. That’s not a scientifically perfect explanation, but it’s pretty much the deal.

A domestic capacity to produce spherical graphite has long been a technical burden for more than just Australia which has seen China long dominate the value-added commodity product.

The question of what to do with gigalitres of liquid acid waste is less of an optics risk for China (who just dump it in the desert in Mongolia.)

ESG handwringing aside, an enthusiasm from governments to back domestic supply chains and the slow and quiet march of technological progress that happens regardless are converging to make an Australian spherical graphite capability close to reality.

Renascor’s main value proposition is that it says it can make spherical graphite without needing to use hydrofluoric acid,

The company still needs help, however. Case in point, South Korea’s POSCO and Japanese Hanwa helped apply for the $5M loan. Both companies have offtake deals with Renascor.

“The award of this grant recognises the strategic significance of the Siviour Battery Anode Material Project and its potential to become a long-term producer of Purified Spherical Graphite for the lithium-ion battery sector,” Renascor MD David Christensen said.

“With this grant funding, we will now be able to build upon the significant work already completed on our downstream processing designs and further demonstrate that our eco-friendly, Hf-free purification technology can deliver a globally competitive PSG production operation.”

I am about to make one observation, which I’ll save from the gallows by pointing out the obvious – Renascor has the backing of two ex-China Asian giants and is on the verge of building a demo plant.

But Canberra’s $5M to Renascor announced today can’t help but seem a little stingy when you realise Arafura Rare Earths got nearly a billion from Canberra (being fair, Arafura’s at the very start of their journey, and it’s also backed by Gina Rinehart, which perhaps suggests safety.)

A jaded and self-serious cynic may be seduced into wondering, however, whether Canberra are unsure if the company can actually make spherical graphite without the use of acids.

Renascor last traded at 9cps.

RNU by the numbers
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