Harold A Taylor,
GRAPHITE ADVOCATE NEWS
Issue No. 1 December 2000
Welcome to the first issue of the website Graphite Advocate News (GAN). GAN will appear on a frequent but irregular basis and has been designed to quickly update busy executives and their professional staff on synthetic and natural graphite developments, usually with a reference to where the item appeared so that more information can be obtained if needed. GAN will almost never have long items, and will usually total under one page in length. The most recent detailed comprehensive reference to the production, sources, markets and end uses of natural and synthetic graphite is the Financial Times Executive Commodity Report on Graphite written by GAN's editor and publisher, Harold A. Taylor, Jr.
The USGS began providing data for synthetic graphite again; 1999 production of graphite electrodes was 172,000 tonnes valued at $535 million, and 1999 production of high-modulus graphite fiber was 2,450 tonnes valued at $54.4 million. The last numbers published were for 1994. The new numbers were probably undercounted, particularly for graphite fiber, because of classification difficulties and because full industry cooperation has yet to be regained.
In May 2000, Mazarin Mining and Ucar International reached a preliminary agreement for Ucar to purchase some Mazarin Mining stock, evaluate the Lac Knife crystalline flake graphite deposit, and then jointly develop it if Ucar thinks it warranted (Mining Annual Review 2000 article by HAT).
Kropfmuehl Grafitewerk bought Bogala Graphite Lanka of Sri Lanka and a Czech producer (Mining Annual Review 2000 article by HAT).
Graphite prices according to Industrial Minerals appear to have been stable from 1998 through 2000. However, the USGS average prices suggest some price erosion.
Outlook for graphite, 2000-2001: Since most graphite goes into steel-related uses, "the world steel industry seems to be doing better in 2000 as the Asian economies improve and the U.S. and European steel producers recover the ground lost to surplus Asian steel, but customers could be in the driver's seat only temporarily" (from Harold A. Taylor's article cited above). For graphite supply and price level, the critical factor is China. At this time, the U.S. economy appears to be weakening. Things will appear to be a little less muddled when partial 2000 data is provided by the USGS in one or two months, to be summarized here in a later issue.