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Drop in China’s graphite exports after enforcing export controls

In the first two months of 2024, China witnessed a significant decline in graphite exports following the implementation of export controls on specific graphite-related products in December 2023.

According to data from China’s customs, exports of flake graphite totaled 3,236 tonnes during this period, marking a steep 77.66% decrease from 14,483 tonnes recorded in the same timeframe in 2023.

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Similarly, exports of spherical graphite stood at 2,567 tonnes in January and February, representing a notable 64.54% decline from the 7,240 tonnes exported during the corresponding period last year.

Market analysts anticipated this decline, attributing it to the substantial surge in shipments observed in November 2023, which resulted in ample consumer inventory levels until February.

Moreover, there remains uncertainty regarding the timeline for issuing export licenses by China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Despite these challenges, monthly shipments of both flake graphite and spherical graphite indicate that Chinese suppliers are gradually receiving export licenses for key destinations such as the US, South Korea, Japan, and European countries.

One flake graphite trader suggested that total volumes of flake and spherical graphite exports may increase in March as more suppliers secure export licenses.

In February, shipments of flake graphite surged to 2,295 tonnes, marking a significant 144.06% increase from January’s 940.61 tonnes. Notable destinations for China’s flake graphite exports included South Korea, Japan, and the Netherlands.

Similarly, shipments of spherical graphite totaled 1,549 tonnes in February, representing a 52.34% increase from January’s 1,017 tonnes. Major destinations for spherical graphite exports included Japan, the US, and South Korea.

While China’s export control policy has caused disruptions, there has been limited short-term impact on the international graphite supply chain. Downstream players, including anode producers and battery manufacturers, have begun diversifying their raw material sources.

For instance, Syrah Resources, an Australian-listed graphite miner and anode producer, has emerged as the first vertically integrated natural graphite anode producer outside of China. Additionally, inquiries for materials from Africa have surged as consumers seek alternatives to Chinese sources.

Despite slower exports from China, prices for graphite flake 94% C, -100 mesh, cif Europe remained stable at $600-715 per tonne, indicating ongoing market dynamics.

Stay informed about the graphite market’s trends and developments by visiting our dedicated graphite market page and accessing our comprehensive long-term forecast.

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