Spherical graphite price grows on tight supply

The price for uncoated spherical graphite in China has increased twice over the course of one month, while demand from overseas buyers has led to a rebound in Chinese export volumes.

Chinese spherical graphite export prices rose once producers increased offers on tight supply and the expectation of higher prices, supported by strong demand from overseas battery makers.

Industrial Minerals assessed the spherical graphite 99.95% C, 15 microns price at $2,700-2,800 per tonne fob China on April 12, up from $2,500-2,700 per tonne fob China a week earlier.

The price has increased twice over the course of one month, following a previous uptick in mid-March.

“Higher domestic prices pushed up the export market. We would not accept lower prices of $2,500-2,600 per tonne fob China for spherical graphite as domestic prices are at 17,000-20,000 yuan ($2,704-3,181) per tonne on reduced spot supply,” a producer in Qingdao told Industrial Minerals.

Chinese exports of spherical graphite reached a seven-year high in 2017, totalling 40,871 tonnes and up 25% from the previous year.

Meanwhile, graphite producers have expectations of higher spherical graphite prices because supply might tighten in the coming months in anticipation of the 2018 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China, in June.

As on previous occasions throughout China when major events are being held, local authorities impose temporary shutdowns to improve air quality and restrict pollution levels in the run-up to the event.

Market participants in China are now looking out for similar restrictions in Qingdao and in wider Shandong, the country’s leading graphite producing province.

“Qingdao will host the SCO summit in June, which might impact graphite production, resulting in fewer spot material during the summit period in order to guarantee better air conditions, but we haven’t received any official information,” another producer in Qingdao said.

“It is assumed a lot of production will be shut down from the second half of May.” A second supplier said.

Meanwhile, flake graphite prices remained stable on quiet purchasing in China. According to Industrial Minerals assessment, flake graphite 94-97% C, -100 mesh price was assessed at $655-790 per tonne on April 12, unchanged from the previous week.

Prices in the European market also remained unchanged.

Flake graphite 94-97% C, +80 mesh was stable at $1,000-1,300 per tonne cif Europe as of April 12.

Flake 94-97% C, +100 -80 mesh and -100 mesh, flake graphite were also unchanged at $950-1,100 per tonne and $790-940 per tonne cif Europe respectively.

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