Graphite: Lithium-ion batteries “should be called nickel-graphite” batteries

Roskill view: Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s throwaway comment in June 2016 that “our cells should be called nickel-graphite because primarily the cathode is nickel and the anode side is graphite with silicon oxide” appears to have concentrated minds in the graphite investment community over the summer. Despite their name, lithium-ion batteries are, of course, heavier consumers of graphite than lithium. Roskill notes that the average monthly price for 94-97% C large flake graphite moved higher for the first time in July 2016 since late 2014. A number of investment companies have also made graphite announcements. For example, drilling at Armadale Capital’s Liandu Project in Tanzania is now expected in early September 2016. Liandu is very close to Kibaran Resources’ Epanko Project, which has graphite offtake agreements with the Japanese trading house Sojitz and the German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp.

Roskill notes that in 2016, existing world demand for graphite in all batteries is estimated to just exceed 125,000t. Of this total, natural graphite accounts for around 90,000t (70-75%) and synthetic graphite 35,000t (25-30%). Batteries are an application where natural and synthetic graphite are truly in competition. There will be a continued shift in world graphite markets away from amorphous natural graphite towards flake and synthetic graphite as emerging applications like batteries typically require large flake and/or high-purity grades.

Roskill’s Natural & Synthetic Graphite: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook report was published in 2015. Click here to download the brochure or sample pages or access further information.

Roskill will be attending three battery events in the next few weeks to discuss graphite and other battery raw materials. Come and meet us at The Electric Vehicle and Hybrid Technology Show, Detroit, Michigan, USA on 13-15 September 2016 (Booth 619), Batteries 2016 in Nice, France on 28-30 September 2016 and the 2016 Lithium and Graphite Conference, Shenzen, China on 3–4 November 2016.