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Graphite Market size is estimated to reach US$22.4 billion by 2027 after growing at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2022-2027. Graphite is a carbon-based mineral found in crystalline form and it is of two types i.e., natural type consisting of flakes like amorphous graphite and synthetic type which consist of graphite made from coke & pitch. Hence rich properties like self-lubrication, high tolerance to heat and unchangeability, etc., makes graphite of high usage in various application. For instance, in automotive vehicles especially electric vehicles it is used in lithium-ion batteries, as heat resistant in refractories, as an additive in lubricant, as concrete material in construction building and a combination of graphite fibre with carbon nanotubes makes carbon fibre reinforced plastics which have high usage in the aerospace sector. The drivers for the graphite market are growing demand for new energy vehicles like electric vehicles, increase in the volume of steel production, construction activities and rising demand for fuel-efficient aircraft through graphite-made materials. However, the grinding particles and chemicals of graphite make it a harmful pollutant as it can cause pollution and damage to the respiratory system. Hence stringent regulation imposed by the government on graphite usage will hamper the growth of the graphite industry.
The unfavorable effect left by COVID-19 harmed the functionality of industrial sectors such as mining, construction, metallurgy, chemical, automobiles etc. as the measures taken by governments of countries such as lockdown, quarantining, social distancing led to a shutdown of mining plants, construction sites, service stations and automotive factories. Graphite is used in such sectors as lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles in the automotive sector, as lubricant and grease in mining machinery, and cement material in construction. For instance, as per the Society of Electric Vehicles Manufacturers, the registration of all-electric vehicles during 2021 declined 20% to 236,802 units against 295,683 units sold in 2020. Also, as per the 2021 report of the European Union on Impact of COVID-19 on European Union industries, the output of chemical industry between January and June reduced to 5.2% with the lowest point reaching in April with major countries like France and Italy showing a reduction in chemical output of 11.7% and 6.7%. Hence as the production of output in such sectors reduces, so led to a decrease in demand for graphite in them, thereby harming the growth of the graphite industry.
Graphite Market Segment – By Product
Natural graphite held the largest share in the graphite market in 2021, with a share of over 40%. This owns to factors like having high cost-competitiveness, friction resistance and optimal performance. Hence such rich properties make natural graphite have high industrial applications like in refractories, batteries, steel making, brake lining and lubricants etc. For instance, as per the 2021 report of the National Automobile Dealers Association, the vehicles sales in Q2 totaled up to 17 million units in the US, of which 76.9% was light trucks. Also, as per the 2021 report of the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as computers, laptops, mobiles etc. and other electrical equipment increased by 13.5%. Hence as natural graphite is used as a battery in electrical instruments and as brake lining in heavy trucks, so increase in production of such segments will lead to an increase in demand for natural graphite to be used in them, thereby positively impacting the graphite market.
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Graphite Market Segment – By Purity
High purity graphite held the largest share in the graphite market in 2021, with a share of over 35%. This owns to factors such as high purity graphite has excellent conductivity, lubrication and high-temperature resistance. Hence due to such rich properties, it has various industrial applications such as lubrication, metallurgy, automotive, aerospace etc. The rapid development in some sectors such as the growing demand for the electric vehicle segment in the automotive industry has created more demand for high purity graphite since it is mainly used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. For instance, as per the European Environment Agency of European Union, the electric registration of electric cars and vans increased from 550,000 units in 2019 to 1,325,000 units in 2020, hence showing an increase of 11%. Hence as the demand for electric vehicles increases, this will increase the usage of lithium-ion batteries in them thereby increasing the demand for high purity graphite in the automotive sector for the electric vehicles segment
Graphite Market Segment – By Application Type
Refractories held the largest share in the graphite market in 2021, with a share of over 30%. This owns to factor like graphite blocks made in refractories is used in various industries such as metal manufacturing, electronics, chemical, steel and other fields etc. but the main user is metallurgical sector as such blocks are used for graphitization furnace, metallurgical furnace, resistance furnace etc. The rapid development and increase in production of sectors such metal manufacturing sector have led to more usage of graphite-based refractories. For instance, as per the July 2021 report of the World Steel Association the World crude steel production for the 64 countries was 161.7 million tones (Mt) in July, a 3.3% increase compared to July 2020, and the steel demand will further increase to 2.2% in next one year. The increase in production of steel will increase the demand for graphite blocks in them as it is majorly used in a metallurgical furnace. Hence such an increase in graphite usage will positively impact the demand for graphite in refractories thereby impacting the growth of the graphite industry in refractories.
Graphite Market Segment – By End User
Metallurgical held the largest share in the graphite market in 2021, with a share of over 30%. The metallurgical segment consists of electrodes, refractories, casting, and foundries. Hence as graphite electrodes are used in electric and ladle furnaces for steel production and with the rising production in steel, the demand for graphite will also increase. For instance, as per the 2021 report of the World Steel Association, the world crude steel production in May for 64 countries was 174.4 million tones (Mt), showing an increase of 16.5% when compared to 149.6 million tones produced in the same month. Such an increase in the production of steel will also increase the demand for graphite electrodes. Hence the increasing demand for electrodes will create more usage of graphite in them, which would positively impact the demand for graphite in the metallurgical sector thereby providing more growth opportunities for the graphite industry.
Graphite Market Segment – By Geography
Asia-pacific held the largest share in the graphite market in 2021, with a share of over 40%. This owns to factor like the region consisting countries like China, India, Japan, South Korea have major end-users of graphite across automotive sector, construction sector, metallurgical sectors, and others. For instance, National Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency, the construction sector in India will grow as the third largest globally by 2025, and construction output will grow on an average of 7.1% each year, and infrastructure activities stood at $24.72 between April 2000 and March 2021. Also, as per World Steel Association, the production of crude steel stood at 1878 million tones of which China accounted up to 56.6%, showing an increase of 3.4% from 2019. Hence the rapid development in the construction and metallurgical sector in such countries has positively impacted the demand for graphite in them, thereby positively impacting the growth of the graphite industry in the Asia-Pacific region.
Graphite Market Drivers
Increase in Demand for Electric vehicles
With the growing technological advancements, consumers have started shifting their demand from manual vehicles to electric hybrid vehicles. Various automotive plants for e-vehicles are being set up in countries. For instance, as per European Automobile Manufacturing Association, the production for e-vehicles increased up to 11% in 2020 from 3% in 2019 in the EU, and as per the International Energy Agency, electric car registration increased by 41% in 2020 globally, with China and Europe being the largest electric vehicle market. Graphite is used in the manufacturing of lithium-ion based batteries which are used as fuel in new generation vehicles like electric and autonomous vehicles. Hence with the increase in the production of electric vehicles, the demand for graphite to be used in lithium-ion batteries will also increase, thereby having a positive impact on the growth of the graphite industry.
Increase in volume of construction activities
Emerging economies, rapid urbanization and various infrastructural developments undertaken by countries have increased the scale of construction activity. For instance, as per the National Bureau of Statistics, China construction industry grew by 22.8% in Q1 of 2021 preceded by 6.6% in Q4 and 8.1% in Q3 and 7.8% in 2020 and as per the State Council for the People’s Republic of China, in July 2021 China approved projects related to the development of affordable rental homes for better access to housing in China’s big cities Also, as per U.S Census Bureau, the total construction spending in November 2021 was $1,625 billion which was 0.4% more than from October same year and 9.3% more compared to November 2020 spending of $1,463.3 billion. Hence the increase in the scale of construction activities will lead to increase in demand for graphite to be used in construction material, thereby providing more growth opportunities for graphite industry in the construction sector
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Graphite Market Challenges
Stringent government regulations
Graphite mining and production can create environmental problems. The harmful chemicals used during its processing when discharged in surrounding land and water can pollute the area, whereas the dust emission caused during graphite mining has harmful air pollutants. Hence to prevent such wastage certain regulation has been laid by the government organizations. For instance, the U.S Environment Protection Agency’s Mineral Mining and Processing effluent guidelines 40CFR Part 436 applies to wastewater discharge from processing of 21 categories of mineral including graphite. Hence meeting such regulations relating to mining wastes has become mandatory for miners.
Graphite Industry Outlook
The companies to develop a strong regional presence and strengthen their market position, continuously engage in mergers and acquisitions. Graphite top 10 companies include:
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A. Special Graphite Market
B. Graphite Electrodes Market
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