Flake graphite operations in Qingdao were shut down during
China’s holiday for the lunar new year, which was extended to February 10 in
Shandong province as part of the measures put in place to help
control the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
"Factories resuming operations should take measures to
minimize the risk of infection on a person-by-person basis," a
producer in Qingdao told Fastmarkets. "We are not up to full
operation yet. Workers are taking shifts on a daily basis, and
body-temperature should be monitored [to check for fever] among
those coming in to factories."
Some factories have got back to production at about 70% of
normal capacity, but there were still concerns about the
continuing spread of the infection and the consequent disruption to logistics.
"We have received some inquiries recently and made offers at
prices flat [from those before the break]," a trader in flake
graphite said. "We are not sure when logistics will be back to
normal. Our agents for land transport are not back [at work
after the extended break]. We still have orders outstanding
from before the holiday, but it’s not possible to
ship them out at the moment."
Even when land transport becomes available, the cost of
domestic freight has ticked upward by 40-50 yuan per tonne to
200 yuan ($29) per tonne, which is an increase of almost
Apart from the shortage of land transport, making shipments
for export is another issue troubling traders and producers of
"We booked our schedule on February 3, but the date was then
delayed to February 10," a trader in spherical graphite said.
"Ships to Japan and South Korea have not been affected yet, but
those to Europe are affected due to the length of the voyage,
as well as cancellations on some routes."
Most market participants have only recently returned to work
and were fulfilling contracts signed before the holiday, so
only limited spot market activity has been reported. Prices of
all graphite grades were flat from where they were at the end
of 2019, but there may be signs of change by the end of
February, according to sources.
Fastmarkets’ latest assessment of the price for
graphite flake 94% C, -100 mesh, fob
China, was $540 per tonne on Thursday February 13, flat
since the end of August 2019.
On the same day, the price of graphite flake 94% C, +100 mesh fob China,
was at $690 per tonne, unchanged since early November, with
supply tightness continuing.
"We have enough inventory for -194 [Graphite flake 94% C,
-100 mesh], but not enough for +194 [Graphite flake 94% C, +100
mesh]," a second flake graphite producer in Qingdao said.
"There might be some price adjustment when market activity is
back to normal, if the coronavirus can be brought under
For graphite amorphous 80% C, -200 mesh, fob
China, the price was assessed at $320-340 per tonne on
February 13. Producers of amorphous graphite cite low inventory
as supporting the price until operations get back to
In addition, the price of graphite spherical 99.95% C, 15 microns, fob
China, was $2,500-2,600 per tonne, unchanged since late
August last year.
In Heilongjiang province, another production hub for
graphite, production was still halted due to the extremely cold