Mexico graphite export data to US misleading
Published: Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Natural graphite export data shows Mexico has overtaken China as leading source for US; IM Data challenges these claims
Trade data shows that the US imported more graphite from
Mexico than anywhere else in the world in 2012.
As with a range of international statistics, these figures are
hard to believe.
When you consider that Mexico is only thought to have produced
around 8,000 tonnes of amorphous graphite last year, it would
have done well to be the primary supplier to the worlds
Trade statistics show that Mexico exported 19,730 tonnes of
natural graphite in 2012, 1,100 tonnes more than China.
Clearly the nature of international data collection leaves
margin for misinterpretation and error, which begs the
question of how far businesses can depend on the
accuracy of these statistics.
Throughout last year, the average value of natural graphite
exports from China was $1,116/tonne. Depending on the grade in
question however, this could have been anywhere from over
double, to in excess of 40% lower than the actual market
Lost in the wider statistics are the specifics which drive
graphite prices carbon purity, mesh size, type and
impurities. Just as it can be costly to production if these
specifications are miscalculated, so too can it be financially
costly to be misinformed.
Public data hides detail of a complex, private
Although public statistics can serve as useful indicators,
they are unable to fully explain the complexities of a
specialist industry such as graphite.
Furthermore, in global markets trade data can often give a
misleading representation of where deals are taking place
- the Netherlands for instance is listed as the 8th
largest exporter and 10th largest importer of graphite in 2012
due to Rotterdam being a central port into Europe.
Mexico accounted for only 2.4% of global amorphous graphite
output last year, just over 1% of total natural graphite
production. Trade statistics show 19,370 tonnes of natural
graphite being exported from Mexico to the US in 2012, over
half of which is thought to be anthracite or another forms of
Similar misreporting has been identified by IM
Data in North Korea. Exports from the country are
recorded as exceeding 54,000 tonnes in 2012 and almost 130,000
tonnes in 2011, yet graphite production capacity is actually
thought to be less that 2,000 tonnes.
Industrial Minerals Data collects
its own data including prices for the natural graphite
industry. Data and analysis for the graphite market is
available at www.indmin.com/GraphiteAnalysis.
Industrial Minerals has also
Natural Graphite Report 2012-2016.