China was the largest country in the global graphite market and was worth nearly $559 million in 2018. China is the largest graphite producer in the world. In 2017, graphite production in China was 780,000 metric tonnes. According to the US Geological Survey, in 2017, the country accounted for 65% of the world graphite production and 35% of the world graphite consumption.
The graphite market in China is supported by the presence of large end-use industries such as refractories, steel, and lithium ion batteries. China is the largest producer and consumer of refractories in the world. In 2018, refractories production in China was 7.8 million tonnes between January and June due to strong demand from the automotive and construction industries. Graphite is used in specialist shaped refractories, namely magnesia-carbon bricks and alumina-carbon refractories. Medium and large flake graphite is typically preferred by refractories in the country. The market in China is also characterized by an increase in flake graphite prices since October 2017 due to high demand from lithium-ion batteries combined with the Chinese plant closures. Refractory restocking through Q1 2018 helped to support higher prices for flake graphite in the country. China is also the largest steel producer globally. In 2017, crude steel production in China was 831.7 million tonnes. Government initiatives to promote renewable energy and electric vehicles are supporting the consumption of graphite in lithium ion batteries in the country.
The global interest in graphite mining is increasing following the increasing demand for lithium-ion batteries from the electronics and energy industries, where graphite is a major component. As a result, countries around the world are taking measures to utilize graphite resources to benefit from the rising demand. Luobei County Yunshan Graphite Mine was the largest global graphite mine by production, at 20,000,000 tonnes per annum. The graphite mine was established in 1959 and is located in Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province, China. Heilongjiang Province’s graphite reserves account for 64% of China’s reserves, and 45% of the world’s reserves. The mine comprises 12 graphite mining companies with 26 production lines. It has processing capacity of around 25 million tonnes annually; it accounts for 35% of the country’s output, and nearly 50% of the export volume.
The graphite market in China is expected to grow to around $616 million in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5%. Government initiatives to promote renewable energy and electric vehicles are expected to drive the consumption of graphite in lithium ion batteries in the country.