Cape Breton could be a step closer to landing a new mining operation that would employ as many as 200 people.

John Wightman is president of Mount Cameron Minerals. He said his company's exploration project in Frenchvale, N.S., could result in a major flake graphite mining operation.

He said the latest tests indicate there is a significant amount of graphite within the area's large marble deposit.

Graphite is used to make lithium ion batteries and is in high demand globally.

But Wightman says developing a mine takes time, even if everything falls into place.

"If money was no object — and it is an object these days because of the state of the market — but from the time our financing was completed it would take about four years, best case, before we could actually start mining," he said.

"It's probably more like six years. These are long-term projects."

Wightman said the project would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. He estimates a graphite mine could employ as many as 200 people.