Graphite: CIMM Group of China plans European synthetic graphite electrode plant

One of China’s largest synthetic graphite electrode producers, CIMM Group is planning the construction of a new plant in the city of Sisak, Croatia.

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CIMM Group is a major synthetic electrode producer, albeit behind market leaders Fanda Carbon New Material and Sinosteel Engineering & Technology. It operates a 40ktpy plant in Dandong, Liaoning and a 30ktpy plant in Donghai, Jiangsu for the production of electrodes. It also sells refractory products – including magnesia carbon brick based on graphite—and a range of other products.

Chinese manufacturers have rushed to install capacity for synthetic graphite electrodes since the country began to commit heavily to higher rates of steel production via electric arc furnace in 2017. Several hundred thousand tonnes of new capacity has already come on-line and further capacity expansions of 0.5-0.6Mtpy are planned to come on-line by the early 2020s.

The proportion of steel produced in electric arc furnace (and, thereby, requiring synthetic graphite electrodes) in China could double from 10% in 2018 to around 20% by 2028. However, even with such robust growth in demand, China is thought to have gone too far too soon and new installations are expected to lead to significant overcapacity.

It is not clear what markets CIMM Group plans to serve with its new Croatian plant, but more mature markets in the rest-of-world (ROW) have been somewhat forgotten amid China’s rapid growth.

Previously, weak steel markets resulted in a pattern of closures and industry consolidation in the ROW throughout much of the early and mid-2010s. GrafTech International, the second largest producer outside China, estimates that production capacity in the ROW fell from approximately 1.0Mtpy in 2014 (from 30 manufacturers) to 0.8Mtpy by 2017 with closures of plants by major producers including those in Brazil, South Africa, the USA, Canada, Italy, Germany and Japan.

Showa Denko of Japan led consolidation to become the world’s largest synthetic graphite electrode manufacturer in October 2017, following its acquisition of the graphite electrode business of SGL of Germany (comprising six plants—two in the USA and one each in Germany, Spain, Austria and Malaysia).

Fast forward to 2019 and crude steel markets in Europe and North America are showing some recovery and major producers are looking to increase capacity where possible.

Roskill’s NEW Natural & Synthetic Graphite: Outlook to 2028 report was published in June 2019. Click here to download the brochure and sample pages or to access further information.

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This article was written by Suzanne Shaw. Please get in touch below if you wish to discuss further:

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