Global media reported on Friday that China’s Commerce Ministry will, as of December 1, require export permits for certain graphite products in a move, “conducive to ensuring the security and stability of the global supply chain and industrial chain, and conducive to better safeguarding national security interests.”
China is the world’s largest producer of graphite, a key component of batteries for electric vehicles and also widely used in traditional graphite markets.
Northern Graphite’s cornerstone Lac des Isles mine in Quebec, Canada has been supplying traditional graphite markets for over 30 years, from refractory bricks for steelmaking to heat management in mobile phones and friction and lubrication products for brakes and brake linings for the global automobile industry.
“This news out of China underscores that the onus is on the West to develop secure sources of graphite supply to ensure a smooth energy transition,” said Northern Chief Executive Officer Hugues Jacquemin. “Northern is the only natural graphite producing company in North America, has multiple development projects, and is well positioned to be a real solution for the entire graphite market value chain as demand for this critical component of Lithium-Ion batteries builds in coming years.”
Northern is targeting production expansion at its Lac des Iles mine in Quebec together with the restart of its Okanjande mine in Namibia and construction of its Bissett Creek project in Ontario. A planned 200,000-tonnes-per-year Battery Anode Material facility in Baie-Comeau, also in Quebec, is forecast to begin supplying battery makers with first-phase production in 2026.
China export controls as reported would make it even more critical for automakers to lock in graphite supplies outside of China as shortages are already looming amid growing demand from the auto sector.
Graphite has been classified by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of five minerals deemed critical for the development of EV batteries and the energy transition, but it has largely been in the shadow of other battery minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese. For a vehicle to qualify for the full US$7,500 EV tax credit reflected in the landmark U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a minimum percentage of the critical minerals by value in the battery (such as graphite, lithium, and cobalt) must be sourced from the United States or one of the countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. Minimum requirements begin at 40 percent and increase to 80 percent by 2026 and 100 percent by 2028.
“I think it’s time for government and markets to increase their support of the graphite industry if it’s going to be ready to support the energy transition,” said Mr. Jacquemin.
Northern Graphite, whose Lac de Isles and Okanjande mines and facilities are fully permitted, is engaged with governments and automakers as it sets up to be the next generation carbon materials company for the energy transition. It has a sustainable, integrated, mine-to-market-to-battery solution that will be available as U.S. credits on EV batteries produced by the United States and their trading partners come into force through the end of the decade under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act.
“This news out of China means that, even more than before, we are extremely well positioned to service demand for graphite from battery makers in North America. We have everything in place. As the only producer of graphite in North America, Northern Graphite is clearly in the driver’s seat with a tremendous competitive advantage,” said Mr. Jacquemin.
Source: Northern Graphite