Although refractories remain a primary market outlet for graphite, the evolution and high growth potential of graphite anodes in lithium ion batteries (LIB) for electric vehicles (EV) is driving graphite developments worldwide and may influence feedstock availability.
China’s grip on the mine to EV battery supply chain is undisputable. China currently controls 71.3% of worldwide natural graphite supply, 65.0% of worldwide synthetic graphite supply, and at present 100% of worldwide spherical graphite supply (grade used in LIB, derived from natural flake graphite).
Largely, production is based in Heilongjiang and Shandong provinces. China’s central government has been increasingly involved in the country’s graphite production, including encouraging the intervention of local government and state-owned enterprises.
The relevance of environmentally friendly production in the anode supply chain has become clear, encouraging producers to develop increasingly environmentally friendly purification methods (such as not using hydrofluoric acid in graphite processing).