Graphite: Cornerstone of EV batteries

Company News

by Peter Milios

This article was originally published on 24 August 2023.

The EV industry, with its eyes set on a trillion-dollar market value, is racing against time to replace the century-old internal combustion engines (ICE) that have long dominated the roads. As the demand for EVs skyrockets, the focus has shifted towards building the necessary infrastructure. However, one crucial component—graphite—has taken the backseat in the EV revolution. With North America's battery gigafactories ramping up production, the spotlight is now on domesticating the graphite supply chain, and Graphex Group Ltd (GRFX) is leading the charge.

Graphite: The Unsung Hero of EV Batteries
Graphite, often overshadowed by the lithium hype, is a cornerstone of EV batteries. It constitutes 95-99% of the anode material in lithium-ion batteries, making it essential for energy storage. In fact, a single 'lithium-ion' battery can contain up to 15 times more graphite than lithium, contributing around 25% of the battery's total volume. Tesla's Elon Musk even suggests that these batteries should be called 'nickel-graphite batteries'.

Graphex Group: Revolutionising North America's Graphite Supply Chain
Graphex Group Ltd (GRFX), under the leadership of industry veteran John DeMaio, has embarked on a mission to domesticate North America's graphite supply chain. DeMaio, with 35 years of experience in the energy sector, is spearheading the construction of a 15,000 tons-per-annum graphite refining facility in Detroit, strategically located at the heart of America's auto industry. The construction is set to conclude by late 2024, marking a significant step towards establishing a self-sufficient graphite supply chain in North America.

Ramping Up Production: A Critical Moment
Graphex Group isn't new to the graphite game. Already producing 10,000 tons-per-annum of refined graphite in Asia, the company is well-versed in the complex refining process. Unlike potential competitors that are still in the experimental stages, Graphex Group is ready for commercial-scale production. With North American battery factories demanding a million metric tons per year of graphite anode material, Graphex Group's domestic production aims to fill this gap.

Securing the Supply: Deals De-Risking Graphite
Graphite supply has been dominated by China, but North America is determined to secure its own supply chain. To achieve this, Graphex Group has strategically entered into agreements with key players in the graphite mining and processing space. Notably, the partnership with Syrah Resources' Balama graphite operation in Mozambique diversifies the raw materials supply chain, reducing reliance on China and bolstering North America's self-sufficiency.

A Glimpse into the EV Industry's Future
As the EV industry continues to boom, companies like Tesla, QuantumScape, NIO, EnerSys, and Teck Resources are redefining transportation and energy storage. Tesla's visionary approach to battery technology, QuantumScape's solid-state battery breakthroughs, and NIO's innovative Battery as a Service model are all shaping the future of mobility. Moreover, Teck Resources' commitment to responsible mining and EnerSys's versatile battery solutions showcase the industry's dedication to sustainable practices.

The Road Ahead
The EV industry's rapid growth demands a holistic approach, from refining battery materials to developing cutting-edge technology. Graphex Group's mission to domesticate the graphite supply chain aligns perfectly with this vision. With their Detroit facility poised to start operations in the near future, North America inches closer to achieving a self-reliant graphite supply chain, bolstering its position in the global EV market. As the graphite industry evolves, Graphex Group stands as a beacon of innovation and progress in the electrification revolution.

Australia's Players
NOVONIX (ASX:NVX) has a synthetic graphite anode material plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and a cathode pilot line in Nova Scotia.

NOVONIX is poised to be a game-changer by becoming the first qualified local supplier of battery-grade anode materials in the US. Their synthetic graphite powder, known as NOVONIX Anode Material (NAM), targeting EVs and energy storage systems in the US.

Recently the Company formed an agreement with LG Energy Solutions (LGES), the world’s 3rd largest battery maker, and has formed a JV in Saudi Arabia for 30kt/year from 2030. NOVONIX has also received US$150m as a grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) is a globally significant vertically integrated natural graphite and battery anode company, supplying battery and industrial markets with high quality, environmentally differentiated and customer qualified products.

The Company has a flagship Balama Graphite Operation in Mozambique and the Vidalia Active Anode Material Facility in Louisiana, US.

OAR Resources (ASX:OAR) is an exploration and development company focused on building and developing a portfolio of battery and critical minerals assets. The Company’s flagship asset includes the Oar Graphite Project on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

OAR hold a 100-per cent interest in the project, which has a current JORC resource of 6.22Mt @ 4.8% Total Graphite Content (TGC). OAR has identified a series of critical steps to confirm the potential of its ultra-fine flake graphite for conversion to BAM as part of its strategy to pursue a commercial development at the project.

Magnis Energy Technologies (ASX:MNS; OTCQX:MNSEF; FSE:U1P) is a vertically integrated lithium-ion battery technology and materials company with strategic assets, investments and partnerships in the electrification supply chain.

The Company owns a 100% interest in the Nachu graphite project located near Ruangwa, in the south-east of Tanzania. The project is approximately 220km away from the Tanzanian port of Mtwara. The Nachu Project demonstrates significant potential due to its large size, an orebody with very low variation in lithology and mineralisation and low-cost operational model. 

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