With each lithium-ion battery requiring up to 20 times more graphite than lithium, demand for high quality graphite is increasing in parallel with the electric vehicle and energy storage markets.
Kibaran Resources Limited is the latest firm to announce it has produced ‘superior quality, battery-grade’ graphite for the battery market from its Epanko Project in Tanzania.
The company, like many others, is aiming to establish a vertically integrated business model— from the mine to graphite production— to supply the lithium-ion battery market.
Samples of its graphite, produced under commercial production conditions, have been sent to anode manufacturers in Japan for testing via graphite trader Sojitz Corporation.
Kibaran aims to target anode manufactures outside China, where the EV market is expected to drive demand, especially in Europe (where bans on fossil-fuel cars have been mooted ) and the US.
Tests have shown Kibaran’s graphite has a high carbon content, high tap density (allowing more active material to be packed into the battery to increase capacity) and low impurities, says the firm.
Kibaran’s managing director Andrew Spinks said: “Kibaran is capitalising on the strong forecast growth in demand for battery-grade graphite from the booming lithium-ion battery industry.
“With a focus on production of realistic quantities of high-quality battery-grade graphite at competitive costs, paired with environmental sustainability, Kibaran can be a leading non-Chinese supplier.”
Current demand for battery-grade natural graphite is around 48,000 tonnes per annum. With some analysts predicting demand could rise as much as 200% in the next four years.
China (780,000MT) and India (170,000MT) were the biggest producers in 2015, according to the US Geological Survey.
Those two countries eclipse the next eight (224,000MT combined).
And be sure to subscribe to BEST to read a in depth report on the graphite industry in the Winter 2017 edition of BEST magazine.