European graphite prices rise sharply

By Davide Ghilotti
Published: Thursday, 05 October 2017

Sellers in Europe report increasing demand for all graphite grades between 94% and 97% C content, while higher prices from Chinese suppliers is forcing some EU grades upwards by as much as $200/tonne.

Spot prices of refractory grade graphite sold in the European market have seen a sharp rise over the past week following rapid appreciation in China and higher demand from consumers.

While the Chinese flake graphite market had already posted a number of upticks for several grades during the past month, prices on a delivered Europe basis had until now remained firm.

At the same time, continuous upward price pressure on the part of Chinese sellers is now reflecting in new business conducted at prices that are, in some cases, over $200 higher than previous levels, according to IM’s 5 October market assessment.

European producers also cited improved market conditions overall.

"[We can see] higher demand for both flake and medium products," a Europe-based supplier told IM, adding that bookings have increased for a number of grades, specifically + mesh sizes above 95% C.

Distributors serving the European market told IM of fast-rising prices for imported Chinese material.

China has been clamping down heavily on industrial activities that are deemed polluting, carrying out widespread inspections at facilities and enforcing temporary closures. Inspectors have been back to Shandong (China’s main graphite producing area) for a second round of checks, which has affected production operations.

Plus mesh sizes have been particularly curtailed as these require acid processing, which is a point of focus of the environmental controls.

These factors on the supply and demand side have led to prices for the most popular refractory graphite grades, ranging between 94% and 97% C, to rise into Europe.

IM flake graphite 94-97% C, +80 mesh price rose to a range of $925-1,070/tonne CIF Europe on 5 October.

This marks an average increase of close to $200 compared with a previous range of $750-850/tonne, which had held since early in the summer.

Flake graphite 94-97% C, +100 -80 mesh size, has also appreciated sharply to $865-1,040/tonne CIF Europe 5 October, against $700-750/tonne previously. This grade has gone up by $228/tonne on average.

Finally, flake graphite 94-97% C, -100 mesh prices, followed the other two grades, and traded at $785-940/tonne CIF Europe, accrding to IM's 5 October assessment. This grade previously stood at $620-650/tonne CIF.

The latest increases in Europe follow a series of upticks seen in China for both + and – mesh sizes.

Previously, European suppliers had told IM that  high demand flows were expected to generate higher sales flow in 2017 against last year.

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