Over eight pages (pp41-49) in this issue,
Industrial Minerals covers a view of 2017 in different minerals
markets. For most of these, an anti-pollution clampdown in
China reduced production - facilities were shut down for
failing to adhere to the strict environmental parameters
announced by the central government at the end of 2016.
What has become clear is that the stockpiles are running low
or are completely depleted. And that production is not simply
just switching back on after the checks. These shutdowns have
undoubtedly been the story of 2017 in our markets.
And not just in our upstream, raw materials markets.
Conversations with those trying to source chemicals to be
used in food – which contain industrial minerals
– reveal that every market is struggling. Sources
tell me that even large drinks manufacturers are unable to
secure supply of specific chemical compounds for
Graphite goes into the black
Securing sufficient supplies of graphite had not been
problematic for consumers over the past few years. Until months
ago, most perceived the global graphite market to be lingering
in a situation of oversupply and sluggish demand, deputy
editor Davide Ghilotti writes in his feature on the
refractory and battery mineral (pp34-38).
While it is true that sales to the battery sector were
increasing, buyers knew they could place an order on almost any
day and be certain of finding the material and at a good price.
But in 2017 that changed.
With the environmental-related clampdown triggering a rebound
in prices, local sellers seized the opportunity they had been
awaiting for years, drastically reducing availability,
leading prices higher still in the fourth quarter.
In lithium, many have turned to produce battery grade
lithium hydroxide in 2017. This has become the favourite
lithium compound used in lithium-ion batteries by cathode and
SQM, Albemarle and FMC are among producers who opted to
increase their lithium hydroxide output throughout 2017 to
fulfil battery and cathode makers’ consumption
SQM’s total lithium hydroxide capacity will rise
to 13,500 tonnes per year from 6,000 tpy by the end of
FMC Corp doubled its battery-grade lithium hydroxide total
capacity to 18,000 tpy in 2017.
Albemarle Corp will expand its total capacity of lithium
products in Chile, to more than 80,000 tpy by 2020 from 44,000
tpy in 2017.
Orocobre Ltd expects total production of lithium carbonate
for the 2017-2018 financial year of about 14,000 tonnes.
For more information on lithium markets in 2017, visit
One of the largest news stories this year was the merger of
RHI and Magnesita to form a single company – RHI
Magnesita. Davide Ghilotti spoke to new CEO Stefan
Borgas about the different markets the company will target and
its plans for the future (pp31-32).