Graphite

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Features

  • 'You need a clear vision of your goal, but also a bit of luck'

    Friday, 30 August 2019

    When Erik Zobec launched Seven Refractories at the height of the eurozone crisis, few would have believed the company would go on to become one of the world’s leading monolithics producers. As Seven approaches 10 years in business, he talks to Ross Davies about its ascent.

  • Brick by brick: Building an international refractory maintenance company

    Friday, 30 August 2019

    US-based Bricking Solutions has been in the refractories kiln maintenance business for more than 50 years and has been led by managing director Heather Harding since January 2019. She shares her views on the business she runs and the wider refractories industry.

  • Synthetic graphite fends off natural competition

    Friday, 30 August 2019

    Claims that natural graphite is a cheaper alternative to synthetic material are frequently made in the junior mining sector, but downstream users say there is price parity among end-products. Rose Pengelly reports.

  • Asbury's 'King Carbon' has more to achieve in graphite sector

    Wednesday, 01 May 2019

    “I’ve always enjoyed brainstorming ideas with engineers, asking what else we can develop using graphite.” Stephen Riddle, chief executive officer of Asbury Carbons, speaks to Rose Pengelly about his passion for carbon, and why even four decades of experience does not mean you have seen everything in graphite.

  • The peaks and troughs of Eurasian mining

    Wednesday, 01 May 2019

    Turkey is the standout performer in Eurasia’s industrial minerals industry but its economic recession is affecting the wider region. Rose Pengelly looks at what neighboring countries are doing to boost their domestic mining sectors.

  • Unlocking the global graphite supply chain

    Thursday, 20 December 2018

    The complexity of the graphite market is one of the main reasons why new producers struggle to establish profitable businesses in this sector, even if they manage get new mines into operation. Correspondent Rose Pengelly examines the intricacies of the graphite supply chain and considers who may be able to step in to help break China’s dominance.

  • Year in Review 2018

    Thursday, 20 December 2018

    A round-up of all this year's events in the global industrial mineral sector.

  • Out of the melting pot: A year of change in refractories

    Thursday, 06 September 2018

    After a year of reorganization and changing narratives in the refractories industry – from significant M&A activity to raw material price spikes, and from booming end-market demand to uncertainties in global trade – Industrial Minerals correspondent Myles McCormick takes stock of a changed landscape for companies operating in the sector.

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Market Brief

Graphite is one of most versatile of non-metallic minerals. It is one of four main natural forms of carbon along with coke, coal, anthracite and diamond. Graphite can also be manufactured synthetically, primarily via the Acheson Process which utilises lower purity carbon-bearing raw materials blended with tar pitch.

Natural graphite is produced in three commercial forms: amorphous (60-85%C), flake (>85%C) and vein (>90%C). Vein graphite is only being mined in Sri Lanka.

Graphite’s main markets are a combination of traditional industry – refractories (high temperature bricks and linings utilised in metal production, ceramics, petrochemicals and cement industries) – as well as batteries and the main anode material. Other markets include steel-making (as a recarburizer), brake-linings for vehicles and lubricants.

Natural and synthetic graphite industries operate independently and have little crossover in market share and end-uses.

Natural graphite supply

Natural graphite production was 1.1m tonnes worldwide in 2012. Of this total, flake accounted for 55%, amorphous 44% and vein 1%.

The dominance of Chinese production is the main talking point in the industry. China accounted for 79% of total world output followed by Brazil, India, North Korea and Canada. Smaller levels of production are also seen in Norway, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Russia, Ukraine and Germany.

The natural graphite industry is going through a corrective phase following over two decades of no new supply coming on-stream.

China is focusing on controlling its sprawling domestic graphite industry and improving pollution levels and mining practices. At the same time a macro-economic push to move from lower value exports to producing value added products is expected to see less graphite concentrate destined for export and higher production of downstream products such as spherical graphite and battery anode materials.

The 2011 exploration boom

The emergence of electric vehicles (EV) and the potential boom in lithium-ion battery demand has buoyed interest in graphite’s role as a major battery raw material. This led to an exploration boom between 2011 and 2012 which saw over 70 new companies being established, predominately focused on exploration in Canada.

Towards the end of 2012, the rush slowed as investment from the capital markets dried up.

Graphite is one of most versatile of non-metallic minerals. It is one of four main natural forms of carbon along with coke, coal, anthracite and diamond. Graphite can also be manufactured synthetically, primarily via the Acheson Process which utilises lower purity carbon-bearing raw materials blended with tar pitch.

Natural graphite is produced in three commercial forms: amorphous (60-85%C), flake (>85%C) and vein (>90%C). Vein graphite is only being mined in Sri Lanka.

Graphite’s main markets are a combination of traditional industry – refractories (high temperature bricks and linings utilised in metal production, ceramics, petrochemicals and cement industries) – as well as batteries and the main anode material. Other markets include steel-making (as a recarburizer), brake-linings for vehicles and lubricants.

Natural and synthetic graphite industries operate independently and have little crossover in market share and end-uses.

Natural graphite supply

Natural graphite production was 1.1m tonnes worldwide in 2012. Of this total, flake accounted for 55%, amorphous 44% and vein 1%.

The dominance of Chinese production is the main talking point in the industry. China accounted for 79% of total world output followed by Brazil, India, North Korea and Canada. Smaller levels of production are also seen in Norway, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Russia, Ukraine and Germany.

The natural graphite industry is going through a corrective phase following over two decades of no new supply coming on-stream.

China is focusing on controlling its sprawling domestic graphite industry and improving pollution levels and mining practices. At the same time a macro-economic push to move from lower value exports to producing value added products is expected to see less graphite concentrate destined for export and higher production of downstream products such as spherical graphite and battery anode materials.

The 2011 exploration boom

The emergence of electric vehicles (EV) and the potential boom in lithium-ion battery demand has buoyed interest in graphite’s role as a major battery raw material. This led to an exploration boom between 2011 and 2012 which saw over 70 new companies being established, predominately focused on exploration in Canada.

Towards the end of 2012, the rush slowed as investment from the capital markets dried up.

Major graphite producer highlights

Nacional de Grafite, Brazil
Timcal Ltd, Canada
Skaland Graphite
• Grafitbergbau Kaiserberg, Austria
• Tirupati Carbons, India
• Agrawal Graphite Industries, India
• Tamin, India

Major graphite processors

Asbury Carbons
Superior Graphite

Graphite exploration company highlights

Northern Graphite, Canada
Focus Graphite, Canada
Ontario Graphite, Canada
Energizer Resources, Madagascar
Syrah Resources, Mozambique
Standard Graphite, Canada
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Talga Resources, Sweden
Graphite One, Canada

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