China Looks to Limit Graphite Exports

Aaron Foyer
Raw graphite
Courtesy of Reuters

China continued to flex its supply chain dominance by announcing a curb on graphite. The announcement is expected to hit more than just the Scantron test industry: electric vehicles use huge amounts of graphite.

What happened: On Friday, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced it would require foreign importers to apply for permits to receive graphite, per Axios.

Graphite is a key mineral used in the anode for electric vehicle batteries. By weight, graphite account for roughly 30 percent of EV lithium-ion battery materials, regardless of the chemistry.

The pencil is mightier than the sword

This is not China’s first foray into geopolitical influence using critical minerals. The Chinese government has been leveraging its dominance of clean energy supply chains to exert political pressure on western nations, particularly the United States.

  • Just last month, the country moved to restrict the exports of gallium and germanium, two key minerals used in chipmaking, solar technologies, superconductors, and more.

Big picture: Given its importance for electric vehicles and that China controls 68 percent of global graphite production plus almost all the synthetic graphite market, this is quite the flex.