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Electrification

Natural Graphite: The Material for a Green Economy

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The following content is sponsored by Northern Graphite.

graphite demand

Natural Graphite: The Material for a Green Economy

As the world moves towards decarbonization, electric vehicles (EVs) and clean energy technologies offer a path towards a sustainable future. However, these technologies are mineral-intensive, and the minerals they use are becoming increasingly valuable.

Graphite is one such mineral.

As the anode material and single largest component of lithium-ion batteries, graphite has a key role in the clean energy transition. But there are two types of graphite: natural and synthetic. Which one is better for the green economy?

The above infographic from Northern Graphite outlines the need for graphite and weighs the pros and cons of the two types of graphite.

The Need for Graphite

Graphite has six key properties that make it essential for EVs and other clean energy technologies.

  • High electrical conductivity
  • High thermal conductivity
  • Relatively low cost
  • High energy density
  • Long cycle life
  • High temperature resistance

A single EV contains 66.3kg of graphite, according to the IEA. With more EVs on the road, the world will need more graphite. In fact, among critical battery metals like cobalt, nickel, and lithium, graphite is projected to see the largest increase in demand through 2029.

Batteries can use both types of graphite as anode materials. As of 2020, synthetic graphite dominated the anode market with 58% of market share. However, this could change over the next decade. By 2030, natural graphite is expected to see a 1437% increase in anode demand, compared to a 705% increase for synthetic graphite.

Why is the demand for natural graphite rising at a faster rate?

Natural Graphite vs Synthetic Graphite

The methods of production make the key distinction between the two types of graphite. Natural graphite occurs naturally in mineral deposits and miners extract it from the ground through open-pit and underground mining. On the contrary, manufacturers make synthetic graphite by high-temperature treatment of carbon materials like petroleum coke and coal tar.

Producing graphite from mineral deposits results in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the conventional mining process. However, the heat treatment of synthetic graphite is an energy-intensive process that releases harmful emissions.

According to one study, the manufacturing of synthetic graphite produces roughly 4.9kg of CO2 per kg of graphite. That’s roughly three times the amount of CO2 emissions that come from producing 1kg of natural graphite.

Additionally, natural graphite is also cheaper to produce than synthetic graphite. According to research from the Öko-Institut in Germany, anode material made from natural graphite is priced between $4 and $8 per kg, while synthetic graphite-based anode material costs $12-$13 per kg.

The Anode Material for a Green Economy

Critical minerals like graphite are becoming increasingly important in the transition to clean energy. However, managing the environmental impact and efficiency of producing these raw materials is just as important.

With a lower environmental footprint and lower production costs, natural graphite is the anode material for a greener future. As the energy transition continues, new graphite mines could play a key role in meeting graphite’s rapidly growing demand.

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Electrification

Visualizing Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

With a rich history of mining, Peru plays a vital role in supplying the world with silver for clean energy technologies and electrification.

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Peru's Silver Mining Strength

Visualizing Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

Peru’s silver mining industry is critical as the world progresses towards a clean energy transition. Silver’s use in EVs, solar energy, and mobile technologies will require ready supplies to meet demand.

Peru will be centre stage as the world’s second-largest producer of the precious metal.

This graphic sponsored by Silver X showcases Peru’s silver mining strength on the global scale, putting in perspective the country’s prolific production.

Global Silver Production by Country

Mexico, Peru, and China dominate global silver production, with these countries producing more than double the silver of any other country outside of the top three.

In terms of regional production, Central and South America provide the backbone for the world’s silver industry. With five nations in the top 10 producers, these regions delivered ~50% of the world’s 2020 silver production.

Country2020 Silver Production (in million ounces)Share of Global Silver Production
Mexico178.122.7%
Peru109.714.0%
China108.613.8%
Chile47.46.0%
Australia43.85.6%
Russia42.55.4%
Poland39.45.0%
United States31.74.0%
Bolivia29.93.8%
Argentina22.92.9%
World Total784.4100%

Along with being the top silver mining regions in the world, Central and South America silver production expects to have the strongest rebound in 2021.

While global silver production could increase by 8.2%, Central and South America’s production could rise by 12.1%.

Peru can feed this growth, with the country’s exploration investment forecast for this year expected to reach up to $300 million with over 60 projects currently in various stages of development.

The South American Powerhouse: Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

Despite its current silver production, there remains more to mine and explore. In fact, Peru holds the majority of the world’s silver reserves with 18.2%, making it the global focal point for silver exploration and future production.

CountrySilver Reserves (in tons)Share of World Silver
Peru91,00018.2%
China41,0008.2%
Mexico37,0007.4%
Chile26,0005.2%
Australia25,0005.0%
Other countries280,00056%
World total500,000100%

While 2020 and 2021 saw slowdowns in mineral production, Peru’s metallic mining subsector increased by 5.1% in August 2021 compared to the same month last year. The country’s National Institute of Statistics and Informatics also highlighted a double-digit rise in silver production of 22.7% compared to August of last year.

Satiating the World’s Silver Demand

As silver demand is forecasted to increase by 15% just in 2021, silver supply constraints are a clear roadblock for clean energy technologies and electric vehicle production. With Peru’s annual silver production forecasted to grow by more than 27% by 2024, the country is looking to solve the world’s growing silver supply crunch.

The nation’s strong credit ratings and well-established mining sector offers investors a unique opportunity to tap into the growth of Peru and its silver industry, while powering renewable energy and electric vehicle production.

As a Peru-based mineral development and exploration company, Silver X Mining is working to produce and uncover the silver deposits that will provide the world with the metal it needs for cleaner technologies.

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Electrification

Ranked: The Top 10 EV Battery Manufacturers

With an increasing interest in electric vehicles (EVs), the battery market is now a $27 billion per year business.

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The Top EV Battery Manufacturers

Ranked: The Top 10 EV Battery Manufacturers

With increasing interest in electric vehicles (EVs) from consumers, the market for lithium-ion EV batteries is now a $27 billion per year business.

According to industry experts, high demand has boosted battery manufacturers’ profits and brought heavy competition to the market. And by 2027, the market could further grow to $127 billion as consumers embrace more affordable EVs.

Asian Powerhouses of Battery Production

Besides being a manufacturing powerhouse of vehicle parts, Asia is fast becoming a hotbed for innovation in the battery sector.

No wonder, the top 10 EV battery manufacturers by market share are all headquartered in Asian countries, concentrated in China, Japan, and South Korea.

RankCompany2021 Market ShareCountry
#1CATL32.5%China 🇨🇳
#2LG Energy Solution21.5%Korea 🇰🇷
#3Panasonic14.7%Japan 🇯🇵
#4BYD6.9%China 🇨🇳
#5Samsung SDI5.4%Korea 🇰🇷
#6SK Innovation5.1%Korea 🇰🇷
#7CALB2.7%China 🇨🇳
#8AESC2.0%Japan 🇯🇵
#9Guoxuan2.0%China 🇨🇳
#10PEVE1.3%Japan 🇯🇵
n/aOther6.1%ROW

According to data from SNE Research, the top three battery makers—CATL, LG, and, Panasonic—combine for nearly 70% of the EV battery manufacturing market.

Chinese Dominance

Based in China’s coastal city of Ningde, best known for its tea plantations, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) has risen in less than 10 years to become the biggest global battery group.

The Chinese company provides lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries to Tesla, Peugeot, Hyundai, Honda, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo, and shares in the company gained 160% in 2020, lifting CATL’s market capitalization to almost $186 billion.

CATL counts nine people on the Forbes list of global billionaires. Its founder, Zeng Yuqun, born in a poor village in 1968 during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, is now worth almost as much as Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

China also hosts the fourth biggest battery manufacturer, Warren Buffett-backed BYD.

Competition for CATL Outside China

Outside China, CATL faces tough competition from established players LG and Panasonic, respectively second and third on our ranking.

With more than 100 years of history, Panasonic has Tesla and Toyota among its battery buyers. LG pouch cells are used in EVs from Jaguar, Audi, Porsche, Ford, and GM.

U.S. and Europe’s Plans for Battery Production

President Joe Biden’s strategy to make the United States a powerhouse in electric vehicles includes boosting domestic production of batteries. European countries are also looking to reduce decades of growing reliance on China.

As Western countries speed up, new players are expected to rise.

A host of next-generation battery technologies are already being developed by U.S. companies, including Ionic Materials, QuantumScape, Sila Nanotechnologies, Sion Power, and, Sionic Energy.

Any direction the market moves, certainly the forecast is bright for battery producers.

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