BSNC invests $2 million in Graphite One
Bering Straits Native Corporation announced last week that it has invested $2 million in the mining exploration company Graphite One.
“This is not just an investment in Graphite One, it is a long-term investment in our region,” Dan Graham, BSNC’s interim president and CEO, said in a statement. “We at BSNC have watched for years as Graphite One has worked to advance the Graphite Creek project and become a friendly neighbor in the region. Graphite One has told us of its intent to develop an environmentally responsible project and provide an exciting economic opportunity for the region that hopefully will play a crucial role in the nation’s transition to a clean energy future.”
Graphite One still has a long road ahead to make its mining proposal a reality—the company is not even in the environmental permitting stage yet. But it has been gaining support among politicians as it explores a large deposit of graphite on state and private land in the Kigluaik Mountains.
The bipartisan Alaska Delegation and Gov. Mike Dunleavy all praised the recent announcement that the U.S. Department of Defense was awarding Graphite One $37.5 million to help finish its feasibility study.
Now, the BSNC Board has announced its unanimous support of the project.
“After careful review and many long discussions, we believe Graphite One shares our values of land stewardship and providing benefits to the region,” said BSNC Board Chair Cindy Massie. “Our investment in Graphite One is about providing opportunities for BSNC shareholders and being proactive about the future of our region.”
Graham told the Nugget in an email that part of the new agreement “includes options for BSNC to invest an additional $8.4 million in Graphite One stock through a private placement agreement.” A private placement allows stock to be sold to a group of pre-selected investors rather than to the public on the open market.
Graphite One will also establish an advisory board to facilitate direct communications of the company’s activities and draw from the local expertise of BSNC.
“BSNC will have a seat on a newly formed seven-member advisory board that will include Graphite One staff, industry experts, consultants and other investors,” Graham said. “BSNC will be selecting their representative in the near future. The advisory board is being established for the members to have direct knowledge of the company’s direction and development details. It is also being formed as a way to consult with Graphite One on local expertise and knowledge from the members.”
Graham also said that the investment agreement includes “a negotiated commitment with Graphite One to set goals for BSNC shareholder hire, workforce development and community support in Brevig Mission, Teller and Nome.”
Graphite One’s business pitch is to build out a domestic supply chain of graphite. Labeled a “critical mineral” by the White House, graphite has been most notable for its use in electric vehicle batteries. The U.S. has not produced its own graphite in decades and relies on countries like China for its supply.
Graphite One is proposing to dig a large open-pit mine near Imuruk Basin to extract graphite. Partially processed materials would then be trucked to the Port of Nome and shipped to a secondary processing facility in Washington State.
“We are grateful for and humbled by BSNC’s support,” said Anthony Huston, President and CEO of Graphite One. “Working collaboratively, we can make Graphite Creek a project to be modeled after in Alaska and nationwide. BSNC is a dynamic development force in Alaska, with an unwavering commitment to community and heritage. All of us at G1 look forward to partnering with BSNC on ways to make our project a model not just for Alaska—but for a nation that is navigating the transition to a new energy future.”
In another announcement on Monday, Graphite One said that it has received a $4.7 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency to create a graphite and graphene-based foam fire suppressant. The product will be developed as an alternative to those that use PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” which are facing new bans.