Investing in Carbon

Carbon is the basic building block of life. It comes in different forms, such as diamonds and graphite. The main source of carbon in mineral form is coal. Scientists have created a thin fabric of carbon, called graphene, with a thickness of only one atom.

Domestic Production and Use: Although natural graphite was not produced in the United States in 2010, approximately 90 U.S. firms, primarily in the Northeastern and Great Lakes regions, used it for a wide variety of applications. The major uses of natural graphite in 2010 were estimated to be foundry operations and steelmaking combined, 32%; refractory applications and crucibles combined, 31%; brake linings, 8%; lubricants, 3%; and other applications, 26%.

Recycling: Refractory brick and linings, alumina-graphite refractories for continuous metal castings, magnesia-graphite refractory brick for basic oxygen and electric arc furnaces, and insulation brick led the way in recycling of graphite products. The market for recycled refractory graphite material is growing with material being recycled into products such as brake linings and thermal insulation. Recovering high-quality flake graphite from steelmaking kish is technically feasible, but not practiced at the present time. The abundance of graphite in the world market inhibits increased recycling efforts. Information on the quantity and value of recycled graphite is not available.

Import Sources (2006–09): China, 46%; Mexico, 23%; Canada, 21%; Brazil, 6%; and other, 4%.

Events, Trends, and Issues: Worldwide demand for graphite was very weak during the last quarter of 2008 and in the first half of 2009, owing to the global recession’s impact on the industrial sectors that use it. However, during the second half of 2009 worldwide demand for graphite began a slow increase, which continued steadily throughout 2010. Principal import sources of natural graphite were, in descending order of tonnage, China, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Madagascar, which combined, accounted for 98% of the tonnage and 90% of the value of total imports. Mexico provided all the amorphous graphite, and Sri Lanka provided all the lump and chippy dust variety. China and Canada were, in descending order of tonnage, the major suppliers of crystalline flake and flake dust graphite.

During 2010, China produced the majority of the world’s graphite, and China’s graphite production is expected to continue growing. In recent years, Canada has opened a number of new graphite mines, and this trend is expected to continue through the next few years.

Advances in thermal technology and acid-leaching techniques that enable the production of higher purity graphite powders are likely to lead to development of new applications for graphite in high-technology fields. Such innovative refining techniques have enabled the use of improved graphite in carbon-graphite composites, electronics, foils, friction materials, and special lubricant applications. Flexible graphite product lines, such as graphoil (a thin graphite cloth), are likely to be the fastest growing market. Large-scale fuel-cell applications are being developed that could consume as much graphite as all other uses combined.

World Resources: Domestic resources of graphite are relatively small, but the rest of the world’s inferred resources exceed 800 million tons of recoverable graphite.

Substitutes: Manufactured graphite powder, scrap from discarded machined shapes, and calcined petroleum coke compete for use in iron and steel production. Finely ground coke with olivine is a potential competitor in foundry facing applications. Molybdenum disulfide competes as a dry lubricant but is more sensitive to oxidizing conditions.

Carbon Producers
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company - $500 million carbon black plant, coke unit and hydrogen processing at its Ruwais refining complex
Aditya Birla Group
American Elements - - Graphite, boron carbide, silicon carbide, and tungsten carbide.
Cabot Corporation (NYSE: CBT) - - Specialty carbon blacks
Columbian Chemicals
Evonik Industries
Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corporation (HKG: 2626) - Cemented carbides
Jiangxi Black Cat Carbon Black Co. (SHE: 002068) - Hard carbon black and soft carbon black
MeadWestvaco (NYSE: MWV) - - Their specialty chemicals division is a leading supplier of activated carbon.
Nippon Kasei Chemical Company (TYO: 4007) - Carbon black for rubber
Phillips Carbon Black Ltd. (BOM: 506590) - Supplies carbon black in India
Sinosteel Jilin Carbon (SHE: 000928)
Fangda Carbon New Material (SHA: 600516)
Dongxin Electrical Carbon (SHA: 600691)
SGL Carbon AG (ETR: SGL)
Thai Carbon Black Public Company (BAK: TCB) - Furnace grade carbon black
China Carbon Graphite Group (OTC: CHGI)
Tokai Carbon Co. (TYO: 5301) - - Carbon black and specialty carbon products.

(wiki) - Carbon on Wikipedia

Carbon News
2011-10-04 - (bsh) - Carbon black consumption rises in India
2011-08-01 - (evo) - Evonik successfully closes divestment of its carbon black business
2011-06-22 - (db) - US carbon black maker Columbian Chem now in Birla hands
2011-06-20 - (mc) - SKP Securities view on Phillips Carbon Black
2011-06-06 - (bl) - Evonik Carbon Black to raise $1.1 billion from bonds, loan
2011-06-06 - (bw) - Asia Pacific – Most promising carbon black regional market according to Merchant Research & Consulting Ltd.
2011-06-02 - (bw) - Research and Markets: China White Carbon Black Market Report, 2010-2011
2010-12-01 - (bl) - Indian billionaires Birla, Goenka said to consider bid for Evonik division
2010-11-02 - (ca) - CRISIL Equities assigns fundamental grade 4/5 to Phillips Carbon Black Ltd
2010-11-01 - (fc) - How a handful of countries control the Earth's most precious materials
2010-10-28 - (bs) - RPG Group plans India's biggest carbon black plant
2010-01-21 - (reuters) - Phillips Carbon to set up $50 mln plant in Vietnam
2009-09-08 - (alb) - Albemarle announces strategic alliance with MeadWestvaco to expand mercury removal product and services line

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