Fastmarkets’ price assessment for graphite
electrodes, ultra-high power, fob China, was $4,250-4,560 per
tonne on Thursday March 30, a rise of $620-790 (19.05%) since
the market was first assessed at $3,460-3,940 per tonne on
January 19, 2022.
Similarly, Fastmarkets’ price assessment
for graphite electrodes, high power, fob China, was
$3,600-3,780 per tonne on March 30, an increase of $610-630
(20.20%) from $2,990-3,150 per tonne on January 19.
Graphite electrodes are used in steel production and
have been subject to a sharp rise in feedstock costs. The
prices of needle coke and petroleum coke have been continuously
rising since the start of the year.
In China, the largest producer of synthetic graphite,
coke prices have risen by 23.53% and 11.57% month-on-month,
respectively, to around 8,000-13,000 yuan ($1,243-2,019) per
tonne and 6,000-7,500 yuan per tonne, according to market
In addition to rising feedstock prices, the European
Commission has imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese graphite
electrodes, which has added to the upward pressure on prices
for consumers in Europe.
Synthetic graphite for the lithium-ion battery anode
sector has faced the same feedstock cost rises as for graphite
electrodes. Additionally, graphite electrodes and synthetic
graphite for anodes can rely on the same graphitization
While the anode market has developed in China, it has
increased competition for these graphitization facilities with
the result that product availability has tightened
significantly, raising costs and hindering production of both
materials. There is an expectation that this tightness will
continue this year, even if the worst has passed in
"Graphitization capacity might get less tight in
comparison to the second half of last year, when
China’s power crunch was at its height," a battery
producer told Fastmarkets. "But we have to admit that there is
still prevailing tightness in availability across the anode
supply chain, be it for the synthetic raw material or
At the same time that feedstock prices have increased
and graphitization has become more challenging, production in
China has been hindered by restrictions to prevent the spread
of the latest wave of coronavirus infections.
"Aside from the rise in prices of raw materials, there
is concern about availability among downstream consumers amid
China’s Covid-19 outbreak, causing transport
interruptions for some producers in the north part of China," a
second anode producer source said.
Surging costs and tightening supply of raw materials
and processing facilities have resulted in tighter availability
of synthetic anode material for the rapidly growing electric
vehicle sector, sources said.
Shifting to natural
The combination of raw material and graphitization
costs account for approximately 85% of the production cost of
graphite anode material, according to sources. Therefore, the
steep price rises in synthetic graphite are an incentive for
battery manufacturers to increase the share of natural graphite
in their anodes, which is estimated to be around 80% in
Anode consumers prefer synthetic material due to its
higher purity and the consistency of its specifications.
Additionally, synthetic graphite offers a longer lifespan and
But natural graphite is about half the cost of
synthetic, according to Fastmarkets’ research
team. As a result, industry participants expect natural
graphite to take a higher share of the anode market because of
its lower cost profile and higher capacity. Emerging production
in South Korea, Japan and Europe is already favoring a higher
share of natural graphite than in China, sources
Spherical graphite production is dominated by China,
but other producers are starting to come on stream. Integrated
natural graphite company Talga commissioned the first
lithium-ion battery anode plant in Europe at the end of
Synthetic graphite production is highly energy
intensive, whereas natural material has a significantly smaller
carbon footprint, which is another attraction for electric
vehicles manufacturers marketing a sustainable
Spherical natural graphite prices have also been
rising in response to increased demand and limitations on
supply. Fastmarkets’ price assessment for graphite
spherical 99.95% C, 15 microns, fob China, was $3,500-3,800 per
tonne on March 31, a rise of $1,050-1,200 per tonne (44.55%)
from $2,300-2,750 per tonne on April 1, 2021.
The production of natural graphite anode material in
China has also been hit by supply-chain issues, such as strict
anti-pollution controls in Luobei county and global logistics
interruptions over the past two years, according to
Natural graphite maintains a strong cost advantage
over its synthetic equivalent although feedstock costs for
spherical graphite have also risen.
Fine graphite flake prices surged following tightening
supply from China and Africa, and a rise in demand.
Fastmarkets’ price assessment for graphite flake
94% C, -100 mesh, fob China, was $830 per tonne on March 31, an
increase of $285 per tonne (52.29%) from $545 per tonne on
April 1, 2021.