The increasing usage of graphite electrodes in electric arc furnaces, for the production of steel, is a major factor responsible for driving the market for graphite. Steel is itself witnessing a rise in production, which involves the use of graphite as a liner for ladles and crucibles and as a segment in firebrick lining heaters. These factors are likely to propel the graphite market at a CAGR of 7.4% during the forecast period (2020–2030), to $36,889.1 million revenue by 2030.
The COVID-19 epidemic has severely impacted the market for graphite globally. Graphite electrodes used in steel production have a long production cycle; hence they are produced in advance to meet the requirement. However, due to the lockdowns, the unused inventory has added to the total cost of production, which has led to high losses for graphite manufacturers.
On the basis of application, the graphite market is classified into electrodes, refractories, lubricants, foundries, graphite shapes, batteries, friction products, and others. Among these, the electrodes category held the largest market share in 2019. Graphite electrodes are the main heating element in the electric arc furnaces used during the steelmaking process, where scrap from old cars or appliances is melted to produce crude steel. Advantages of graphite electrodes including high electrical conductivity and ability to withstand the extremely high levels of generated heat are boosting the market for graphite.
Further, on the basis of end-use industry, the graphite market is categorized into metallurgy, automotive, electronics, and others, among which the automotive category is expected to lead the market in the coming years. The trend of electro-mobility is one of the strongest factors driving the demand for lithium-ion batteries, where graphite is used as an anode material. The energy storage ability, cyclical stability, and cost efficiency of graphite are paving the way for graphite adoption in the automotive industry.
Geographically, the graphite market in Asia-Pacific (APAC) is expected to witness lucrative growth, as a result of the rise in smartphone and automobile sales, especially electric vehicles, opening of new mines, and surge in the commercial application of graphene. Additionally, the growing production and import of graphite to meet the domestic demand from the lithium-ion battery industry is driving the market in China and India.
Players in the graphite market are merging with or acquiring one another to enhance their market presence. For instance, in June 2019, Tokai Carbon Co. Ltd. announced the acquisition of a Germany-based carbon and graphite manufacturer, COBEX HoldCo GmbH (now Tokai COBEX HoldCo GmbH), for $920.5 million. Through this acquisition, Tokai Carbon Co. Ltd. aimed to expand its presence in the European market for furnace linings and electrodes.
Similarly, in June 2018, Tokai Carbon Co. Ltd. acquired Sid Richardson Carbon Ltd., a U.S.-based carbon black manufacturing company. The acquired company, which has been designated as Tokai Carbon CB Ltd., acts as a supply system for the U.S. market.
Some of the major players operating in the global graphite market are SGL Carbon SE, HEG Ltd., GrafTech International Ltd., Showa Denko K.K., Graphite India Ltd., Syrah Resources Ltd., Shanshan Corporation, Tokai Carbon Co. Ltd., Fangda Carbon New Material Technology Co. Ltd., and Qingdao Guangxing Electronic Materials Co. Ltd.