About Graphite

Graphite is a shiny grey mineral that naturally occurs when carbon in rocks becomes crystalline. It consists of parallel sheets of carbon atoms in a hexagonal array and requires considerable pressure and temperature to form. A single sheet of graphite is called graphene and there are approximately three million layers of graphene in one millimetre of graphite.

It has unique properties including very high thermal and electrical conductivity and is used in thousands of applications and products with major consumption by the steel and manufacturing industries. Graphite is finding new markets with use in products as diverse as insulation panels and battery/energy technologies whilst graphene is the subject of major commercialisation efforts and expected to initially find large market share in conductive inks and polymer composities.

Natural graphite market

Volume Comparison of Natural Graphite Market

  • Natural graphite market (1.0Mt/yr) worth US$1B/yr with main consumption in steel and refractories, batteries, automotive parts and lubricants.
  • Graphite is most commonly sold as a concentrate by private contract, but is being considered for listing on the London Metal Exchange which would make pricing more transparent. Industry prices are surveyed and published by Benchmark Minerals and Industrial Minerals magazine.
  • Raw graphite price is commonly determined by particle (flake) size, carbon content (purity) and shape. Most is sold to traders who upsell to refiners/purifiers, polishers and shapers before it is retailed to end users.
  • Historical graphite market growth related to diverse industrial demand of 3-5% annum; new markets growing 7-10% annum.

New Demand Driver

  • Graphite is a significant component of many types of battery, particularly Li-ion.
  • Battery grade graphite is currently made by shaping and treating large flake graphite.
  • Commonly there is 10 times more graphite than lithium in a Li-ion battery anode.
  • Electric vehicles currently use 10kg to 90+kg of graphite per vehicle in batteries alone.
  • Increased mobility of energy, storage devices, graphene and other new technologies offer a carbon age that is expected to impact positively on future demand for natural graphite.

New Demand Driver Battery Image