“With the growing demand for graphite in electric vehicle batteries and other energy storage applications – and recent actions by the Biden administration to secure U.S. supply chains for critical minerals – we see Graphite One’s aim to produce a U.S.-based supply chain solution becoming increasingly significant as a new potential source of advanced graphite products for decades to come.”
—Anthony Huston, President & CEO + Director, Graphite One
The growing adoption of EV battery technology – coupled with plans to build out power lines moving electricity from wind and solar farms to cities and suburbs in the context of the rapidly accelerating renewable energy transition – have sent demand projections for the metals and minerals underpinning these technologies, including graphite, soaring.
Tracking developments in the EV battery technology segment — an area that is clearly dominated by China — industry expert Simon Moores, managing director for Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, declared in 2019 that “we are in the midst of a global battery arms race,” in which the United States and Europe were slow getting off the starting block.
Since 2019, the buildout of lithium-ion battery capability has entered a new gear, with the number of megafactories worldwide rising from 17 to 225 and counting.
Graphite has long established itself as the dominant anode material in commercial lithium-ion batteries because its “capacity is very good and it’s (sic) structural stability is superb.” Against sharply rising demand, the accelerated use of lithium-ion batteries and the broader green energy transition will require 4.5 million metric tons of graphite by 2050, according to World Bank data released in 2020 — a nearly 500% increase over 2018 levels.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) reached a similar conclusion, estimating that global graphite production would have to increase 25-fold by 2040 to meet demand projections.
These assessments don’t even account for the 2021 announcement by Volkswagen Group declaring that its stated goal is for 50% of VW sales to be battery-electric vehicles by 2030 — an objective echoed by U.S. President Joe Biden in an August 2021 for all U.S. new vehicle sales, with backing from the biggest U.S. automakers.
Meanwhile in 2020, the United States — with no domestic graphite production since 1990 — imported 41,000 tonnes of graphite materials. The bulk of that material comes from China, which not only leads global production, but also processes the majority of the world’s coated spherical graphite (CSG).
The coronavirus pandemic has shed light on the increasingly complex nature of critical supply chains, prompting U.S. President Joseph R. Biden to sign a new Executive Order (EO) aimed at strengthening critical U.S. supply chains. The EO identifies three technology sectors as critical supply chains: advanced semiconductors, “high-capacity batteries, including Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries”, and pharmaceuticals. The EO also identifies “critical minerals and other… strategic materials” as a fourth supply chain, essential to technology manufacturing and the Defense Industrial Base.
Graphite, designated a “Critical Mineral” by the U.S. Government in 2018, is central to three of the four supply chains referenced in the White House’s Executive Order.
Graphite One’s plan — to build out a vertically-integrated U.S. based supply chain capable of delivering 41,850 tonnes of battery-grade CSG, and 13,500 tonnes of additional advanced graphite materials annually — has the potential to support critical supply chains and help the United States and its allies make up lost ground in the global battery arms race.
With its vertically-integrated approach from mine to material manufacturing, Graphite One’s intent is to produce high-grade anode material for the lithium-ion Electric Vehicle battery market and Energy Storage Systems, with significant additional production for a range of value-added graphite applications.
Qualified Person Statement
Mr. William T. Ellis, P. Geo. and Vice President of Alaska Earth Sciences Inc., has reviewed and verified the scientific and technical information contained in this website. Unless otherwise indicated, Mr. Ellis is a Qualified Person within the meaning of National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) and an independent consultant to Graphite One Inc. For details of the Graphite One Project, including the quality assurance programs and quality control measures applied and key assumptions, parameters and methods used to estimate the mineral resource set forth in this website for the Company’s Project, please refer to the NI 43-101 Technical Report entitled 2019 NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Update for Graphite Creek, Seward Peninsula, Alaska USA, prepared for Graphite One Inc. by Natalie King, Alaska Earth Sciences, Inc., Chris Valorose, Valorose Consulting, Inc. and William Ellis, P. Geol., Alaska Earth Sciences, Inc. dated May 2, 2019, available on the Company’s profile at sedar.com.
The Graphite One Project is envisioned to be an owner-operated year-round truck and shovel operation situated on the Seward Peninsula in Alaska, which would mine 4 million tonnes of material each year. Of these, about 1 million tonnes with an average graphite mineralization grade of 7% Cg (“contained graphite”) would be delivered to the Processing Plant adjacent to the mine.
On an annual basis, the Mineral Processing Plant would reduce 1,018,000 tonnes of graphite mineralization to 60,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate at 95% Cg. The dried concentrate would be packaged and transported to the Port of Nome, Alaska, and shipped on a seasonal schedule to the Manufacturing Plant.
The Product Manufacturing Plant would pelletize and thermally purify the material to at least 99.95%Cg, before the majority of it would be air-milled, turned into spheroid-shaped particles, and coated and graphitized.
Graphite One’s process would deliver 41,850 tonnes of battery grade CSG per year for end-uses in EV and lithium-ion batteries as well as Energy Storage Systems, with the remaining advanced graphite material — projected at 13,500 tonnes per year — feeding a range of industrial and tech manufacturing supply chains.