The Graphite Market
Graphite has seen a massive turnaround in the past two years, and has become a highly marketable processed commodity that will be a key ingredient for new breakthroughs in materials technology.
New ‘green energy” and technology applications such as lithium-ion batteries, solar power, nuclear power, super capacitors (fuel cells) and the high-tech material graphene are driving demand for graphite and have the potential to significantly influence rapid growth in this market.
Global graphite demand was estimated at around 1250kt in 2014 (US Geological Survey), and this has been forecast to grow to 3500kt by 2035, most for the electric car battery market and lithium-ion battery technology, which requires 10-15 times more graphite than lithium.
Graphene is the thinnest substance known to man at a single carbon atom thickness, and is up to 20 times stronger than steel while being lightweight, highly conductive, and flexible. Whilst development of graphene technology will take some time before it becomes a profitable product, spherical graphite is the key. Spherical graphite is a high purity milled product of around 20 microns, used for the production of lithium ion batteries (used for everything from mobile phones to electric cars) which sells for around $3500 per tonne.
Demand for high purity large to jumbo flake graphite required for such products will continue to grow.
Supply for this growing market will be critical over the next 2-5 years with an estimated 400,000tpa of graphite required to meet projected demand by 2020.
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