February 23, 2023

Battery-Grade Graphite Refining Market Assessment

Stratas Advisors


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While the materials used in cathodes may vary depending on the chemistry, virtually all battery anodes today require a substantial amount of graphite, with alternative anode chemistries including silicon-based still constituting a very niche portion of the market. Flake graphite deposits (>85% carbon) are considered the optimal ore type due to their high purity and crystallinity, currently representing about half of global mined production of graphite – with the remainder being primarily produced from amorphous (microcrystalline) deposits. Mined graphite undergoes a milling and purification process to remove impurities, and is then subjected to a series of mechanical and thermal treatments to increase its crystallinity, improve its particle size distribution, and enhance its electrochemical properties. This results in the production of uncoated purified spherical graphite (uPSG), which is then typically coated with a layer of carbon, normally carbon black or conductive polymer, to produce coated PSG (cPSG) to further increase the electrochemical performance of the active anode material (AAM). Alternatively, cPSG may also be produced directly from synthetic graphite made from carbon-based precursors including petroleum coke and coal tar pitch. While both pathways provide high purity levels, in recent years there has been some preference for synthetic feedstocks among battery OEMs due to their more uniform structure. However, as power costs continue to rise and producers and battery OEMs face increasing pressure to reduce their lifecycle emissions, there seems to be a growing tendency towards the use of flake-derived PSG over synthetic feedstocks.
Battery-grade graphite refining is largely concentrated in China, which currently produces almost 80% of flake-derived and synthetic PSG respectively. Almost half of the global PSG processing market is currently concentrated among four players operating exclusively in China, with Shanshan Corporation as the world’s biggest supplier. PSG produced from synthetic feedstocks currently accounts for almost two-thirds of total PSG supply, but flake-based PSG is projected to register a much stronger growth. In fact, greenfield projects outside of China depict a clear tendency to increasingly utilize unexploited flake deposits to boost cPSG production from natural uPSG feedstocks, with none of these projects favoring synthetic feedstocks. Despite the growing localization of supply in key demand hubs however, China is still projected to account for over two-thirds of total supply of PSG globally by 2030, with synthetic PSG remaining the leading product in China.



This report is part of a series covering all segments of the EV supply chain, and contains strategic insights on growth projections and production trends across major markets and 45+ players, outlining key investments which help shape estimates on annual supply through 2030.

Key takeaways:

  • Global supply of battery-grade purified spherical graphite (PSG) grows at a CAGR of 12.7% over 2022-2030, with synthetic PSG remaining dominant despite the strong growth of natural PSG

  • Shanshan sees modest market share losses as growth from other major and smaller players accelerates

  • China continues to dominate the global market albeit seeing a significant market share loss of 10.7 percentage points

  • Greenfield projects outside of China focus on natural PSG production from new flake mining assets, with new players expected to produce over 21% of total global supply by 2030


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Subscribers can access the full report from Stratas Advisors' CleanTech and Battery Supply Chain service.

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