Chinese export volumes of natural flake graphite increased
by 5% in September year-on-year, although they fell compared
with the May-August period, according to the latest data from
Flake graphite shipments for September totaled 10,598
tonnes, about 600 tonnes more than in the corresponding month
of 2016. In value terms, turnover rose by 2.2% year-on-year to
The statistics confirm a continuation of the growth in trade
to international customers from China, the single largest
producer of the mineral, which has persisted through most of
But at the same time, the September figures also point to a
slowdown in shipments compared with earlier months. August saw
14,666 tonnes exported (28% higher), while in May it was as
much as 15,641 tonnes – 48% more than in September in
The figures for June and July were also consistently above
those for September in traded shipments.
The pattern may be related to a situation of reduced
availability of material produced during the summer months,
following a tightening
of the environmental inspections in graphite-producing
provinces in China, such as Shandong.
Exports had increased in the early months of this year as a
result of the scrapping of the duty regime on sales of natural
flake and amorphous graphite, which the
Beijing government discontinued from January 1.
Exports were subject to a 20% duty rate under the previous
regime. After the levy was canceled, Chinese sellers reduced
their prices, triggering a rebound in demand.
As the environmental controls intensified in the subsequent
months - from June onward - local production facilities could
not operate at full capacity. In the summer months, operations
were intermittent at best, fully shut at worst.
As stocks were being cleared, declining availability
triggered a rise in
prices for some graphite grades.
Lower availability may start to be reflected in the latest
In terms of average unit price, the September volumes marked
a five-month high at $666 per tonne. This compares with an
average export price of $591 per tonne in August, and $643 per
tonne in July.