Graphite is set to remain the leading anode material
component for lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries in the
foreseeable future, with the battery industry poised to drive
demand for the mineral, delegates heard at the 24th IM
Congress in Barcelona on June 7.
Battery technology will continue to employ graphite as a key
component going forward, and demand will increase as a result,
according to Christoph Frey, managing director of Germany-based
consultancy and graphite trading company ProGraphite.
"Graphite currently holds over 90% of the market share for
anode materials used in lithium-ion batteries," Frey told
While the materials and volumes used in the battery cathode
– lithium and cobalt among others – can vary
depending on the battery technology, and research actively
looks to develop alternatives to lower the exposure to these
materials, graphite is a constant, common denominator of all
batteries now in use.
Growth forecasts for the li-ion battery industry support the
view that feedstock demand will follow the uptrend.
Specifically, ProGraphite forecasts that the total battery
capacity required will reach 400 GWh by 2025, based on an
estimated EV output of 6.6 million units by that year (330 GWh
of equivalent capacity required), and including additional
demand (70 GWh) from other applications.
For graphite, this would equate to 440,000 tonnes of
graphite anode material which, considering a 50% graphite
content equivalent, would mean 220,000 tonnes of natural
Refractories, for comparison, would remain the single
largest end-market for graphite (forecast at 315,000 tonnes by
2025), but growth is at a meager 0.4% CAGR.
The company forecasts global graphite demand to reach
920,000 tonnes by 2025, which would be 60% growth from total
2016 demand at 580,000 tonnes.
The Chinese automotive market is "the growth driver for
li-ion batteries," Frey said, describing the domestic expansion
of EVs as "immense."
Data from Avicenne shows that EVs were the single largest
component of total li-ion battery sales in 2016, accounting
for some 35,000 MWh globally. Within that, China accounted
for about two thirds of sales.