Graphite is a non-metallic mineral that has properties similar to metals, such as a good ability to conduct heat and electricity. Graphite occurs naturally or can be produced synthetically. Purified natural graphite has higher crystalline structure and offers better electrical and thermal conductivity than synthetic material.
- In 2021, global graphite mine production was about 1,034 thousand tonnes, a 7% increase from 2020.
- Canadian natural graphite production comes from one mine in Quebec.
- Canada ranks as the 9th global producer of graphite with 7,700 tonnes of production in 2021.
- Canada exported $23 million worth of natural graphite and $17 million worth of synthetic graphite globally in 2021, mostly to the United States.
Learn more about graphite
Among the many applications, natural and synthetic graphite are used for electrodes, refractories, batteries and lubricants and by foundries. Coated spherical graphite is used to manufacture the anode in lithium-ion batteries. High-grade graphite is also used in fuel cells, semiconductors, LEDs and nuclear reactors.
Graphite, global uses, 2021
This circular chart shows the major global uses of natural (34%) and synthetic (66%) graphite. Synthetic graphite is used for electrodes (34%), recarburizing (9%), batteries (9%), graphite shapes (3%) and other (10%). Natural graphite is used for refractories (14%), batteries (8%), foundries (4%), recarburizing (1%) and other uses (6%).
The Lac des Iles mine in Quebec is the only mine in Canada that produced graphite in 2021. However, many other companies are working on graphite projects. Canada produced 7,700 tonnes of natural graphite in 2021, which was very similar to the production in 2020 of 7,620 tonnes.
Canadian mine production of graphite, 2017–2021 (p)
This bar graph shows Canada's annual mine production of natural graphite from 2017 to 2021. The production of graphite mines in Canada was 14,000 tonnes in 2017. Production declined to 11,000 tonnes in 2018. There was a significant decrease to 7,620 tonnes in 2020 and similar production levels of 7,700 tonnes in 2021. Data for graphite production is not publicly available before 2017.
Global production and demand for graphite are anticipated to increase in the coming years, largely because of the use of graphite in the batteries of electric vehicles. In 2021, global consumption of graphite reached 3.5 million tonnes. Synthetic graphite accounted for about two-thirds of the graphite consumption, which was largely concentrated in Asia. North America only consumes 2% of global natural graphite and 1% of synthetic graphite.
Global consumption of graphite by type and region, 2021
These pie charts display the share of graphite consumption by type and region in 2021. Asia accounted for 76% of the 1.2 million tonnes of natural flake graphite consumed globally, Europe 5%, South America 6%, North America 2%, and others 11%. Asia accounted for 81% of the 2.3 million tonnes of synthetic graphite consumed globally, Europe 9%, North America 1%, South America 8%, and others 1%.
Global mine production of graphite was 1,037,000 tonnes in 2021, up 7% compared to the previous year. China is the leading global producer, accounting for 79% of production in 2021. Canada ranks ninth globally for natural graphite production, producing less than 1% of global natural graphite.
|Ranking||Country||Thousand tonnes||Percentage of total|
|World total (rounded)||1036.9||100.0%|
World mine production of graphite, 2012–2021 (p)
This bar graph shows global annual mine production of graphite from 2012 to 2021. The production of graphite mines globally was 1,176 thousand tonnes in 2012 then decreased slightly to 1,112 thousand tonnes in 2013. In the following years, the production rose at 1,176 thousand tonnes in 2014 and 1,188 thousand tonnes in 2015, and then decreased slightly to 1,149 thousand tonnes in 2016. Graphite production declined to a low in 2017 at 871 thousand tonnes then increased to 1,094 thousand tonnes in 2018 and 1,100 thousand tonnes in 2019. The global production decreased in 2020 to 965 thousand tonnes. It increased by 7% in 2021 to 1,037 thousand tonnes of graphite.
World reserves with the largest volume of graphite
In 2021, global reserves of graphite were estimated to be over 330 million tonnes. Turkey has the largest reserves of graphite, followed by China and Brazil. Together these three countries accounted for 70% of the estimated world graphite reserves.
Canada ranks 9th globally for graphite reserves at an estimated 6 million tonnes or 2% of the world total.
|Ranking||Country||Million tonnes||Percentage of total|
In 2021, the value of Canada’s domestic exports of graphite was $39.7 million, a 27% increase compared to the previous year. Imports also increased in 2021, by 12% to $23.2 million.
Natural graphite accounted for 58% ($22.8 million) of the value of Canada’s domestic exports of graphite and 18% ($4.2 million) of Canada’s imports of graphite in 2021. Synthetic graphite accounted for 42% ($16.8 million) of Canada’s exports of graphite and 82% ($19.0 million) of Canada’s imports of graphite in 2021.
In 2021, the United States was the primary destination for Canada’s exports of natural and synthetic graphite, accounting for 81% and 62% of the total export value respectively. Canada also exported natural graphite to 19 other countries and synthetic graphite to 17 other countries.
The market price for graphite is not readily available because natural and synthetic graphite transactions are based mostly on direct negotiations between the buyer and seller.
Natural graphite prices tend to be determined based on a range of factors such as graphite content, flake size and impurity level.
As the largest global producer, China naturally influences international prices, which are mainly provided by large, high-volume buyers and tend to be conservative. Most small buyers tend to pay higher prices.
Although currently small, the market for recycled refractory graphite material is expanding, with material being recycled into products such as brake lining and thermal insulation.
Although graphite is not commonly recovered from the recycling of lithium-ion batteries, a Quebec-based company is developing a hydrometallurgical process that would successfully recover most of the battery’s raw materials, including the graphite.
Notes and sources
Totals may be different because of rounding.
- Graphite, global uses, 2021
- Source: European Carbon and Graphite Association, ECGA Annual report 2021
- Canadian mine production of graphite, 2017–2021 (p)
- Natural Resources Canada
- Data prior to 2017 are suppressed by the source.
- Global graphite consumption by region, 2021 (p)
- World mine production of graphite, by country, 2021 (p)
- United State Geological Survey
- Canadian values supplied by Natural Resources Canada
- World mine production of graphite, 2012–2021 (p)
- United State Geological Survey
- World reserves of graphite, by country, 2021 (p)
- United State Geological Survey
- Canadian values supplied by Natural Resources Canada, company reports
- Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
- Trade data includes the following graphite products: natural graphite, in powder or in flakes (HS code 2504.10), natural graphite, other (HS code 2504.90), artificial graphite. (HS code 3801.10)
- United States Geological Survey
- Lithion Recycling (company)
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