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GM, Panasonic Invest in Graphite

General Motors and Panasonic have signed an agreement to purchase an integral electric-vehicle battery component from a Canadian miner, according to Bloomberg (subscription).

What’s going on: “GM and Panasonic have each committed to purchase 18,000 metric tons of active anode material annually over a period of six to seven years” from Montreal-based Nouveau Monde Graphite, the mining firm announced late last week.

  • The companies are also each investing $25 million into Nouveau Monde Graphite to help it build both a graphite concentrator and “a refining facility for the production of active anode materials” elsewhere in Quebec.
  • GM and Ford “are already constructing EV battery-component plants” in the Canadian province.

Why it’s important: Graphite is the largest component of EV batteries by volume and mass, and at present virtually none of it comes from North America. China is currently the world’s largest exporter and producer of graphite, and it refines more than 90% of the graphite used in EV battery applications, according to Reuters (subscription).

  • In October, China announced it would impose export controls on graphite, which led to a plunge in its exports of graphite from November to December.
  • While the country has approved some export licenses, manufacturers in the U.S. are seeking alternative sources.
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