Which graphite news stories grabbed investors’ attention this year? We run through our five most popular articles in this overview.
It was another interesting year for graphite, with supply news and optimism about the metal’s use as a preferred anode material for electric vehicle (EV) batteries taking center stage.
In 2019, many of our top graphite news stories focused on the metal’s growing role in EVs, and on companies hoping their assets will supply carmakers. Overall, it seems investors remain certain of the metal’s potential and are eager for predictions on where the market may go next.
Below we’ve assembled our most popular graphite news stories of 2019. Read on to find out which articles received the most attention from readers throughout the year.
Graphite anode demand could increase by seven times in the next decade, as the surge in EV sales and the emergence of energy storage continue to drive the construction of lithium-ion battery megafactories.
While lithium, cobalt and nickel are key to cathodes in batteries, graphite is essential for anode production. According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, graphite anode demand is set to increase from 194,160 tonnes in 2017 to 1,080,360 tonnes by 2023 and 1,747,800 tonnes by 2028.
“The US has zero graphite mining or processing capacity geared towards the lithium-ion battery industry,” Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Managing Director Simon Moores told the US Senate at a hearing in February.
The anode space is entering a new era of growth, with graphite to remain the dominant raw material in both its natural and synthetic forms, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Head of Price Assessment Andrew Miller.
Speaking at this year’s Graphite+Anodes event, part of the Benchmark Minerals Week, Miller said that there are 102 lithium-ion megafactories in the pipeline, and demand for graphite anode material could reach 2.4 million tonnes by 2028.
“The anode supply chain is often overlooked in the lithium-ion battery story, but significant investment will be needed to meet future demand growth,” he added.
Syrah Resources, which operates the Balama graphite project in Mozambique, said it would reduce production volumes in the fourth quarter to 5,000 tonnes per month. The company’s Q3 total production and sales volumes were expected to reach 45,000 tonnes.
The slash in output was a direct response to a sudden and material decrease in Chinese spot graphite prices, a decrease that was impacting price negotiations and contract renewals, Syrah Resources Managing Director and CEO Shaun Verner said at the time.
Walkabout Resources (ASX:WKT) challenged bearish statements about the Chinese graphite space in September, saying a decline in prices in the Asian country had not materialized for all flake sizes.
As mentioned, earlier that month, graphite producer Syrah Resources cut production at its Balama project in Mozambique as a direct response to what it said was a sudden material decrease in Chinese spot graphite prices.
According to Walkabout Resources, the comments about the state of the graphite market in China had led to significant speculation and general negative sentiment.
Syrah Resources officially declared the start of commercial production at its Balama graphite project in Mozambique in January, a project years in the making.
The previous few months had brought significant progress for Balama, with Syrah finalizing the property’s mining agreement in late September 2018.
Syrah then went on to sign a sales agreement with Qingdao Taida-Huarun New Energy Technology for 20 kilotonnes of natural graphite in November 2018, followed by an additional sales agreement in December 2018 with Qingdao Langruite Graphite for a minimum offtake of 48,000 tonnes.
Which graphite news stories caught your attention this year? Let us know in the comments section.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.