Graphite Market

A versatile
engineering material

Graphite is a very versatile engineering material that has many unique physical and chemical properties that make it a good conductor of heat and electricity. Therefore, traditionally, graphite has been in demand for a long time in end uses such as refractory materials which are resistant to decomposition by heat and retains strength and form at high temperatures. Hence it is used in furnaces, incinerators and reactors. Graphite is also found in automotive components, inks and coatings, paints, polymers and plastics, lubricants, seals, brake linings and grease, ceramics, drilling fluids, steel pipes, tubing and fire retardants.

One of the important features of graphite is its ability to reversibly insert lithium ions via electrochemical reactions enabling it as an effective electrical energy storing host, especially as an anode material for Lithium-ion battery used in electric vehicles, renewable energy storage and mobile electronics. Graphite makes up over 95% over the anode and is around half the lithium-ion battery with around 1.2kg per Kwh required.
Globally graphite has been designated as a critical and strategic battery mineral in the electrification supply chain driven by the decarbonisation megatrend. The growth in demand for lithium-ion batteries for use in markets such as electric vehicles and renewable energy storage will undoubtedly be exponential.

Graphite Supply

The largest growth in supply to 2030 is expected to come from outside China despite China currently being the major supplier with around 70% of total natural supply. A strong increase is expected from Africa, particularly East Africa, where a number of projects are currently under development.
Given environmental concerns, consistency issues and marginal economics on the majority of China’s lower quality natural graphite mines, some operations are being shut down or consolidated and further closures to Chinese graphite mines are expected. In addition to this, end users are seeking greater diversity of supply. As graphite users seek to diversify from China and demand higher quality, larger flake graphite, Magnis’ Nachu Graphite Project in southeast Tanzania is well positioned to benefit.

The global graphite market currently is ~2.2m mtpa with approximately 50% of that being natural graphite (flake and amorphous sources) with the key producers China, India and Brazil. Synthetic graphite made from petroleum coke makes up the remainder and is energy intensive and hence expensive and not environmentally friendly although total graphite content levels are high.