China continues to be the major supplier to the world for graphite with around 70% of total natural supply, but is also a net importer with growing consumption needs in their industry. Given environmental concerns, consistency issues and marginal economics on the majority of their lower quality natural graphite mines, some operations are being shut down or consolidated and further closures to Chinese graphite mines are expected.
While supply out of China is slowing, demand is growing strongly through new technology from significant end users. In addition to this, end users are seeking greater diversity of supply.
The global graphite market currently amounts to ~2.2 mtpa and approximately 50% comprises natural graphite (flake and amorphous sources) with the key producers China, India and Brazil. Synthetic graphite made from petroleum coke makes up the remainder; the process is energy intensive, expensive and not environmentally friendly although total graphite content levels are high. The demand for natural graphite is expected to increase rapidly with the new technology advancements and the natural-for-synthetic displacement potential is very high.
Blended anodes are becoming increasingly important as battery manufacturers push towards higher energy density chemistries.
Anode Market Forecast
Cost and perfromance advantages mean tha natural graphite will be the preferred option for EVs, if the industry can supply consistent volumes.
Flake graphite producers are investing heavily in value-added processing to meet this demand.