Graphite Electrodes a Current Industry Overview for EAF Steel Producers.
– Jamie Hansen
The recent world shortage of Graphite Electrodes has been caused by a perfect storm of unexpected events that has the following contributing factors:
• Graphite Electrode plants were closed due to unsustainable market conditions and poor financial results since 2014. These closures reduced world graphite electrode capacity by around 20%.
• In Q4 2016, China began new environmental enforcement that was rapid and extreme.
These environmental measures have had the following consequences in 2017:
• A rapid shift in the Lithium Ion battery manufacturing industry is favoring Synthetic Graphite over Natural Graphite as the preferred raw material for Li-Ion battery anodes. This shift is creating competition for critical raw materials, namely Petroleum Needle Coke, that has in the past been almost exclusively dedicated to graphite electrode production. This component is already consuming over 10% of the world supply of Petroleum NC and has potential to rise much higher.
The above factors have created a global Graphite Electrode shortage of roughly 10-20% of supply vs demand. This situation is likely to continue for at least the next several years. Prudent EAF Steelmakers are adopting a commercial and technical strategy to ensure that their graphite electrode supply needs are secure for the next several years.
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