Battery Makers Hunt for Graphite Before China Controls Kick In – by Annie Lee and Heejin Kim (Bloomberg News – October 25, 2023)

(Bloomberg) — South Korean companies are rushing to buy more graphite from China before export controls on electric vehicle battery ingredient take effect in December.

LG Energy Solution Ltd. said on an earnings call on Wednesday that it will try and buy more graphite as soon as possible prior to the measures kicking in. Posco Future M Co., a battery-electrode maker, is also making efforts to maintain “the proper levels of stockpiles” before the Dec. 1 deadline, it said in an emailed response to questions.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said last Friday that it will place some types of graphite under export controls in order to safeguard national security. While the measures don’t necessarily mean shipments will be banned, the announcement unnerved EV makers given the country accounts for about 60% of world’s natural graphite production capacity, and 90% for the synthetic variety.

The Chinese controls on graphite come amid increased competition between Beijing and Washington for materials critical to the energy transition and high-tech sectors, and happened just days after the White House stepped up efforts to keep advanced chips out of China.

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