Despite considerable covid-19 uncertainty in Q2-2020, graphite prices remain high, with March 2020 prices for 94-97%C fine, medium and large size flake still significantly higher than their peak September 2017 prices, a new report by Roskill states.
“Prices have increased steadily since late 2017 as demand for flake graphite from the lithium-ion battery industry coincided with Chinese environmental inspections and then covid-19 plant closures,” the document reads.
According to Roskill, flake graphite prices are expected to rise once again through Q2 2021 with new rounds of environmental inspections beginning across the Chinese provinces of Anhui, Guangxi, Henan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Shanxi and Yunnan.
In the market analyst’s view, even though the inspections avoided flake production hubs in Heilongjiang and Shandong, concerns over supply availability following recent winter checkups and closures are likely to cause uncertainty in the industry.
Roskill points out that Inner Mongolia, another important area of flake production, is also seeing localized emissions crackdowns and that the eight provinces listed include Hunan, the major Chinese hub for amorphous production.
“Plants found to have very high emissions may be banned from applying for a pollution discharge license for up to three years,” the report states. “With the new Five-Year Plan 2021-2025 beginning this year, the new national pollutant discharge permit system being rolled out from March, and a spotlight on China during the 2022 Winter Olympics next year, tighter restrictions seem here to stay.”