[News] China Implements Export Restrictions on Graphite, Impacting Battery and Electric Vehicle Industries

2023-10-23 Emerging Technologies editor

China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that as of December 1, the export of graphite products will require permits, citing national security concerns. Graphite is a vital anode material in lithium-ion batteries, making it crucial for industries like electric vehicles and energy storage. China is the world’s largest producer of graphite, supplying over 67% of global natural graphite and more than 90% of refined graphite.

This move indicates China’s efforts to control critical mineral supplies, which is part of a broader trend as foreign governments, such as the EU, consider tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles due to perceived unfair subsidies, and the US expands restrictions on Chinese companies acquiring advanced semiconductor technology.

Natural graphite is considered a critical raw material by the EU, Japan, Canada, and the US. China’s major graphite buyers include Japan, the US, India, and South Korea. The International Energy Agency predicts a 20-25 fold increase in graphite demand from 2020 to 2040.

In response to the restrictions, the South Korean Ministry of Trade has held meetings with battery and materials manufacturers to discuss strategies for mitigating potential disruptions in lithium-ion battery production. Japan has expressed its intention to inquire further and consider appropriate measures if China’s actions violate World Trade Organization rules.

Before implementing these graphite export controls, China had imposed restrictions on gallium and germanium, affecting global prices for critical metals, starting on August 1. According to Chinese mainland customs data for September, export restrictions on gallium and germanium continue to impede the supply. In September, the export quantity of rolled germanium was 1 kilogram, while in August, it was zero. For both August and September, the export of rolled gallium was zero.

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(Photo credit: Pixabay)