By Liam Denning
America’s energy angst was easier to gauge before the energy transition: You just looked at oil imports. Now it means also fretting about where we get stuff like lithium and… graphite. That’s right, the stuff in pencils is now part of our national neurosis — and it makes the lithium gap look easy by comparison. The electric vehicle industry needs a plan. Fast.
Angst about China’s grip on batteries often focuses on lithium. It is, after all, the defining ingredient and China accounts for more than 70% of the world’s lithium-processing capacity. Yet the average battery contains way more graphite; indeed, it’s the biggest input by weight.
Graphite One Inc., based in Vancouver, aims to produce around 42,000 tonnes of anode-ready graphite 2 per year; not just by mining the site but then also shipping the resulting concentrate down the coast to a proposed processing facility in Washington state. Besides relative proximity, Washington also happens to host the biggest hydropower resources of any state and generates four-fifths of its electricity from zero-carbon sources. Assuming it all gets developed, this graphite chain would exemplify the interlocking demands of energy, geopolitical and climate security that now define the US critical minerals business.