The main driver of graphite demand is Clean Energy Transition, (EVs, energy storage) the global anode market and segment of flame retardant building materials.
Graphite Key Features:
Graphite is one of the most versatile non-metallic minerals in the world. Graphite has a layer structure and each layer each carbon atom is bound to three others. This results in a two-dimensional network of hexagons. Within each layer there are strong bonds, but between the different layers the bonds are very weak. Graphite has excellent thermal conductivity combined with high temperature resistance. Graphite does not have a melting point; it changes from the solid state directly into the gaseous state. Graphite is one of the most chemically resistant materials to almost all media of organic chemistry.
Graphite occurs naturally on earth but can also be produced synthetically. Natural graphite is mainly mined in China, India, Brazil, Mexico and the Ukraine, both underground and above ground. The production process of synthetic graphite is very complex – but at the same time offers the possibility of modifying the properties of graphite as desired. Flexible graphite – also known as expanded graphite or exfoliated graphite – is produced from purified natural graphite flakes.
- refractories, foundries, and castings
- friction materials
- Imerys Graphite & Carbon
- Syrah Resources Limited
- Yingkou Botian Material Technology Limited Comp
- Jixi BTR graphite industrial park
- Focus Graphite Inc.
- AOYU GRAPHITE GROUP
- QINGDAO YANXIN GRAPHITE PRODUCTS
- Battery Minerals Limited
- Black Rock Mining
- Qingdao Black Dragon Graphite Group
- Showa Denko K.K.
- SGL Carbon SE
- Graphite India Ltd.
- Graftech International Ltd.
- Tokai Carbon Co. Ltd.
- Hitachi Chemicals Company Ltd.
- Qingdao Guangxing Electronic Materials Co. Ltd.
- HEG Ltd.
Key End Markets:
By end-user industry, the graphite market is segmented into electronics, metallurgy, automotive, and other end-user industries. The metallurgy segment of the market studied includes electrodes and refractories, casting, and foundries. Graphite electrodes are used in electric arc furnaces (EAF) and ladle furnaces (LF) for steel production, aluminum production, ferroalloy production, and smelting process. The rising production of steel using the electric arc furnace process is expected to increase the demand for graphite. In refractories, natural graphite is used in the manufacture of crucibles and mag-carbon bricks. Graphite is also used as lining in steel converters and electric arc furnaces. Different forms of alumina-graphite are used in continuous casting ware, such as nozzles and troughs, in steel molding applications. The surging usage of steel is expected to increase the demand for graphite.
Graphite is also critical for the manufacturing of batteries, like the ones present in electric vehicles and energy storage systems, as its properties provide the best chemical composition for their anodes.
Supply and Demand Characteristics:
Traditionally, Shandong Province was the center of graphite mining in China but its production is declining due to the depletion of ore reserves and stricter enforcement of environmental regulations. Annual Chinese demand for expandable graphite is approximately 70,000 tonnes. China only produces 25,000tpa of +50 mesh flake and the balance is made up of less desirable +80 mesh flake. The demand for expandable graphite with very high expansion rates is growing even more rapidly and this requires +32 mesh flake graphite. There is currently a shortage of both +50 mesh and +32 mesh material in China as there is in the rest of Asia and Europe. China has now started to import +50 mesh concentrates from Madagascar.
There is no standard quoted price for natural graphite and there is no spot or futures market. Transactions in the marketplace are opaque and largely based on direct negotiations between the buyer and seller. Companies such as Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and Fastmarkets IM are paid subscription services that periodically survey buyers and sellers and publish pricing information. Their prices are mainly provided by large, high volume buyers and tend to be conservative. Most small buyers pay higher than published prices. Graphite miners crush and grind their ore and separate the flakes of graphite from the waste rock through a standard industry process known as flotation. The result is a concentrate that is generally 94 percent graphitic carbon or higher. The concentrate is then screened to separate flakes of different sizes because larger sizes sell for higher prices. A premium is also paid if the purity is higher than 94% and the price is discounted if it is less. The most common flake sizes are +50 mesh (XL), +80 mesh (large), +100 mesh (medium) and -100 mesh (small).
The global graphite market is expected to witness a positive outlook between the forecast years of 2021 and 2025. The demand for graphite will be determined by its usage across applications such as construction, electric vehicles, foundries, refractories, and lubricants amongst others. According to the ResearchAndMarkets.com report, the global graphite market is expected to be worth US$26.8 Bn by 2025 from US$16.4 Bn in 2017, registering a CAGR of 8.5% during the forecast years. The high uptake of graphite across industries will be attributable to its excellent properties of thermal shock resistance, stiffness, better strength, and a good conductor of heat and electricity.
-Natural flake graphite is the fastest-growing product type and will continue to lead with a healthy growth rate of 9.5% in terms of value between 2021 and 2025. -In value and volume, batteries exhibit the fastest-growth of 17.9% between 2021 and 2025. An average HEV contains up to 10 kgs of graphite, where in EVs it is up to 70 kgs. -Currently, synthetic graphite is the preferred material for battery anode materials. However, in the past few years, a significant shift towards natural flake graphite has been observed due to its cost-competitiveness and performance. -Graphite is the most preferred battery anode material for rechargeable batteries and the battery segment is anticipated to create an incremental opportunity worth US$4.6 Bn between 2020 and 2025. -In 2019, Asia Pacific was the largest consumer of graphite and is expected to grow 9.1% in terms of value between 2021 and 2025. -China graphite production is anticipated to consolidate owing to environmental issues. New companies are entering into the graphite space, especially in the processing of natural flake graphite. Graphite is considered as a green energy and technology material.
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