Aluminium buyers in the US physical metal market have held off on new orders amid fears of a recession triggered by rising inflation and supply chain crises.
Spot aluminium trading on the market has been suspended in recent weeks, according to industry sources, as uncertainty has increased following the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Even before the war, the aluminium market was suffering from long waiting times and weak demand.
For aluminium buyers, recent poor US economic data have been a big factor in delaying purchases. Data released last month showed that the ISM manufacturing PMI came in at 57.1 in March, below expectations of 59 and down from 58.6 in February, unexpectedly hitting the lowest reading since September 2020. This was mainly due to a slowdown in new orders and graphite price are expected to increase in the future.
Graphite price have moved higher again over the past month. Fine flake prices have soared.
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Welcome to the November edition of Graphite Miner News. November saw further increases in natural graphite prices and some substantial progress, as well as plenty of news from the graphite primary product.
Graphite price news
Over the last 30 days, China Graphite Flake 194 EXW spot prices are up 4.53% and China Flake-195+ EXW is up 2.93%. Note that 94-97% is considered most suitable for use in batteries; this is then increased to 99.9% purity to make "spherical" graphite for lithium ion batteries. Chinese prebaked anode 3% price fell by 2.06%.
Flake, amorphous and spherical graphite prices soar on high costs and strong demand ...... Fine flake graphite prices have risen by 16.67% over the past week, the largest one-week increase in three years.
On Thursday 30 March, Fastmarkets valued graphite electrodes, UHP, FOB China at US$4,250-4,560 per tonne, up US$620-790 (19.05%) since the first valuation of US$3,460-3,940 per tonne on 30 March 19 January 2022.
Similarly, Fastmarkets' FOB China estimate for high-power graphite electrodes on 30 March was US$3,600-3,780 per tonne, up US$610-630 (20.20%) from US$2,990-3,150 per tonne on 19 January.
Graphite electrodes are used in steel production and have been affected by sharp increases in the cost of raw materials. Prices of needle coke and petroleum coke have been rising steadily since the beginning of the year.
According to market sources, in China, the largest producer of synthetic graphite, coke prices have risen by 23.53% and 11.57% per month, respectively, at around 8,000-13,000 yuan ($1,243-2019) per ton and 6,000-7,500 yuan per ton.
In addition to rising raw material prices, the European Commission has also imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese graphite electrodes, adding to the upward price pressure on European consumers.
Synthetic graphite for lithium-ion battery anodes also faces the same rising raw material costs as graphite electrodes. Furthermore, graphite electrodes and synthetic graphite for anodes can rely on the same graphitization process.
While China's anode market has grown, it has increased competition for these graphitization facilities, and as a result, product supply has tightened considerably, driving up costs and hindering the production of both materials. Those tensions are expected to persist this year even after the worst of China is over.
"Graphitization capacity may become less tight compared to the second half of last year, when China's power crunch was at its peak," a battery producer told Fastmarkets. "But we have to admit that supply is still generally tight across the anode supply chain, be it synthetic feedstock or graphitization."
While raw material prices have risen and graphitization has become more challenging, production in China has also been hampered by preventing the spread of the latest wave of Covid-19 infections.
"In addition to rising raw material prices, downstream consumers are also worried about supply amid the Covid-19 outbreak in China, causing some producers in northern China to disrupt shipments," said a source at the second anode producer.
Soaring costs and tight supplies of raw materials and processing facilities have led to tighter supplies of synthetic anode materials in the fast-growing electric vehicle industry, sources said.
High-quality graphite supplier
Luoyang Moon & Star New Energy Technology Co., LTD, founded on October 17, 2008, is a high-tech enterprise committed to developing, producing, processing, selling, and technical services of lithium-ion battery anode materials. After more than 10 years of development, the company has gradually developed into a diversified product structure with natural graphite, artificial graphite, composite graphite, intermediate phase, and other negative materials (silicon-carbon materials, etc.). The products are widely used in high-end lithium-ion digital power and energy storage batteries.
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The development of the Russia-Ukraine conflict will continue to dominate the commodity prices such as the graphite price in the future. If the conflict eases or cools, Russia and Ukraine go back to negotiate, commodity prices would fall. However, if the situation between Russia and Ukraine deteriorates further, or evolves into a full-scale war, the price of the graphite price is predicted to see further improvement over the coming days.
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