The number of active graphite mines in China is likely to
decrease in the near future while the country’s
government continues to tighten its requirements for local
heavy industries, delegates heard at the 7th Graphite &
Graphene conference in London.
Haibo Mo, deputy general manager at Chinese graphite
producer Qingdao Hensen Graphite, told the audience that it is
probable that a number of graphite operations will be closed as
long as the government’s environmental focus
continues to set the agenda.
"[We estimate] there are 147 flake-graphite mines in China
at present, but this number will drop due to governmental
regulation," Mo said.
And the pool of existing graphite processors could reduce
for the same reasons, he added. "It’s hard to
develop a new mine in China now," he said.
In tier-one producing districts, such as Qingdao, in
Shandong province, no new acid-treatment graphite-processing
plants are allowed to be set up at this time.
The main option for new facilities trying to start
operations is to set-up in industrial parks – specific
areas earmarked for industrial activities, where several
companies locate and can dilute some common costs for discharge
systems or infrastructure. Authorities are actively encouraging
this option because it can also ensure better monitoring of
In Heilongjiang province, authorities may have been slightly
more lax on inspections than in Shandong, although this is
changing rapidly while the government’s
environmental teams inspect this area as well.
The main focus for inspectors at the moment is water
treatment, Mo said. Other aspects of the processing, such as
dust production or noise, are less of a concern for now.
Low capacity utilization
There are "between 400-500 processing companies" in China,
Mo said, accounting for an annual output of 500,000-700,000
tonnes per year of flake graphite.
Total capacity for flake graphite is estimated at 1.2-1.6
million tpy, he added, which points to "an actual capacity
utilization rate of 40-60%."