Delegates and speakers from all over the international minerals supply chains gathered for the Industrial Minerals Congress in Barcelona 5–7 June 2018.
A primary focus of the conference was security of minerals supply. The natural flake graphite industry, for example, is expected to benefit from supply diversification in 2018, as new sources of supply are scheduled to come on stream. Industrial Minerals reported that graphite mining in China had just been interrupted again by a production shutdown in Shandong Province ahead of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) Summit, which was held between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan in Qingdao in early June.
Roskill view: A major theme for the natural graphite industry in recent years has been the attempt to establish a spherical graphite supply chain outside of China. Barriers to entry are high, including the need to develop alternative processing methods with a lower environmental impact than those used in China. Syrah Resources’ plans for a spherical graphite production plant in Louisiana, USA were disrupted in early 2018 when the governing authority of the proposed port location determined the plant not to be a suitable fit for the site. The company is now working towards a new site in Louisiana at Vidalia. Syrah has a binding sales agreement with Jixi BTR Graphite Industrial (a subsidiary of China’s BTR – the largest producer of anode materials in the world) to supply 30kt of graphite during the first year of production, which will be processed into spherical graphite in China.
Other companies working on spherical graphite production projects in the rest-of-world include Focus Graphite, Kibaran Resources, Battery Minerals, Renascor Resources and Northern Graphite. A cooperative project is also underway in Tennessee, USA between Coulometrics, Elcora Advanced Materials, Northern Graphite, Nouveau Monde Graphite, Battery Minerals and Pyrotek.
For now, China remains the centre of the graphite industry. China continues to dominate graphite production and demand. Almost all stages of the lithium-ion battery manufacturing chain are focussed on China and China is by far the largest and most rapidly growing market for lithium-ion batteries.
Roskill’s new Natural & Synthetic Graphite: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook report will be published soon and is available to pre-order. Click here to download the brochure or sample pages or access further information.