Syrah Resources Ltd., the biggest graphite producer outside China, anticipates demand for the key battery material will return as Chinese inventories shrink, allowing the Australian firm to restart its flagship African mine.
(Bloomberg) — Syrah Resources Ltd., the biggest graphite producer outside China, anticipates demand for the key battery material will return as Chinese inventories shrink, allowing the Australian firm to restart its flagship African mine.
China is the world’s largest graphite producer and dominates refining of the material used in electric vehicle batteries and nuclear reactors. Syrah offers one of the few non-Chinese options for those seeking the material through its mine in Mozambique, yet the company halted production earlier this year when graphite prices plummeted due high inventory and weaker sales growth for EVs.
Syrah Chief Executive Officer Shaun Verner said he hopes his company can return its African mine to full output over the next few months once surplus Chinese graphite inventory starts to clear. China’s production is largely seasonal and its summer production tends to finish by November, he said in an interview.
“Our strong view is that towards the end of the year, demand tends to increase because there isn’t ongoing supply from Chinese operations,” Verner said.
Weak graphite prices, which Verner attributes to Chinese supply flooding the market, has driven Syrah’s stock down 67% this year. China’s dominance is “the largest challenge” in the graphite market, according to the CEO, though it offers possibilities as the US and its allied nations push to reduce dependence on China’s supply of battery materials.
“That is also the biggest opportunity, because of the need for supply diversification from the battery manufacturers and automakers outside China,” he said, adding that it’s “driving huge interest” for contracting material produced outside China.
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