Its important to stress that the plant is in the planning
stage and capacities depend strongly on market demand, but
Tesla believes it can be the market leader by producing
low cost batteries in the USA.
How many graphite mines will Tesla need?
Should Tesla choose to use spherical graphite sourced
from natural flake as its raw material of choice, at capacity
the plant will need substantial volumes.
As outlined earlier, a conservative case will see the plant
demanding 93,000 tonnes of flake graphite but in a bullish
case this could rise as high as 140,000 tonnes. The
challenge for the graphite industry will be not only the
volumes but the sufficient quantity of medium and large
At present, medium flake (-100 mesh) graphite from China is
used to produce spherical graphite which is then coated in
Japan. Should the new, more economical processing
techniques take off in the next two years as expected, a
large portion of this demand will be for large flake (+80
mesh) and spherical graphite production hubs will emerge in
Europe and North America.
The flake footprint of each mine varies quite
significantly, each with its own blend of large
and medium flakes in addition to fines. Therefore a
number of mines will need to be built to satisfy a Tesla
plant running at full capacity.
Below, IM Data offers the following
consumption scenarios for Tesla's battery plant by
Conservative case for Tesla plant running at
Spherical graphite demand = 28,000 tpa
Flake graphite demand = 93,000 tpa
New graphite mines needed (equivalent) = 6
Bullish case for Tesla plant at running
Spherical graphite demand = 42,000 tpa
Flake graphite demand = 140,000 tpa
New graphite mines needed (equivalent) = 9