Feb 23 Vancouver Graphite Conference Links Experts, Investors, Opportunities
By Greg Klein
“There’s no question about it—the street is really, really interested in graphite,” says OnPage Media principal Robert Bick. “It’s one of the most exciting investments of 2012. So we’re presenting this event to give investors, brokers and analysts a clear focus on a very hot sector.” The event in question is the Graphite Express-Conference taking place February 23, from 2 to 4 pm, at the Hotel Vancouver. Registration is free.
“We’ll feature keynote speaker Chris Berry, who knows the graphite space exceptionally well,” adds Bick. “Then we’ll have around eight five-minute presentations from companies who’ll explain what they’re doing in this exciting new field. That’ll be followed by a meet-and-greet session for attendees and participants to get together.”
Last December, saw the world’s first graphite conference presented in London by online journal Industrial Minerals. IM Sales Executive Simon Moores says, “We looked at new energy technologies and what commodities they use, and that’s why we picked out graphite.”
Moore reports that the attendees “want to know everything. They want to know the opinions of the companies, what demand’s going to do, what supply’s going to do, all the way through to new innovations, new technologies. It’s everything and anything because the industry’s so niche.”
Berry is a widely quoted writer and public speaker, co-author of Morning Notes and founder of House Mountain Partners, which studies the interplay of emerging and developed economies, the commodities market and junior resource stocks.
“What I’ll cover in my Vancouver presentation is an overview of the graphite market with an emphasis on demand—where it’s coming from, whether it’s sustainable and whether graphite really is a game-changer,” Berry promises.
The stuff is familiar to us as the so-called “lead” (actually graphite) in pencils. Although it’s considered to be the highest grade of coal, graphite is used most widely to create extremely heat-resistant refractories used in manufacturing, as a steel additive and as a component of products ranging from tennis rackets to brake linings.
Graphite’s future looks a little different: clean and green. The fuel cells, solar panels, pebble-bed nuclear reactors and lithium-ion batteries associated with alternative energy all depend on the carbon allotrope.
“One of the things that makes graphite interesting is that it’s considered a strategic or critical commodity,” says Berry. “You absolutely need it for a host of applications, not the least of which is lithium-ion batteries.” Despite their name, they use 10 to 20 times more graphite than lithium, and it’s large-flake, high-purity graphite. Lithium-ion batteries are becoming the standard for phones, cameras, MP3 players and, most important of all, electric vehicles. “This part of the sector is set to take off, with not only four-wheel EVs but also two-wheelers. The electric motorcycle and scooter markets are growing at a much, much faster rate than electric cars,” Berry says.
Traditional uses keep growing as well. China’s steel industry, for example, has been expanding 8% to 12% a year. That country is also poised to become the world leader in electric vehicles. While it produces most of the world’s graphite supply, China has restricted exports.
Production outside China is even lower than most people think, says Moores. “New data that we’ll release in our graphite special next week shows world production has gone down everywhere but Brazil, while China’s gone up. India has been very seriously overestimated. The world outside of China produces less than 20% of supply.”
Chris Berry and his father Michael have been researching this topic a long time. They’re trailblazers. They understand it extremely well so I look forward to hearing what Chris has to say —Ryan Fletcher
That situation need not continue indefinitely, Berry argues. “There’s a lot of graphite to be extracted outside of China. Now the price of graphite, especially large-flake high-purity graphite, has risen to the point where mining is economical outside of lower-wage countries. It’s going to take some time for the West to catch up, but the resources are there and demand is taking off.”
The future may hold even more promise for graphite. “There are tremendous advances being made in labs all over the world with graphite and graphene in particular,” Berry points out. “Graphene is a single atom layer of graphite which is 200 times stronger than steel, so it has huge implications. Imagine a material that’s one of the lightest on earth and one of the strongest, too. That’s a potentially explosive avenue of demand for graphene and, by extension, graphite.
“So my presentation will also highlight how innovation can drive demand. I don’t buy into hype, but amazing advances have been made. The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for experiments with graphene.”
Vancouver’s February 2 Graphite Express-Conference “should attract a good crowd of investors, brokers, money-managers, and others,” Berry continues. “I’ll explain the graphite market overall and then go over the supply chain from R&D in the labs all the way to end-users. I believe profitable investments can be made all along the supply chain, and I’ll explain where to look for those investments.”
Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC director Ryan Fletcher has spent years following the graphite sector. “A lot of institutions, bankers, analysts and brokers are getting calls now about graphite, what to look for, what to avoid, how to deploy their capital,” he says. “People need answers. There’s a huge opportunity there, but people are trying to scramble really quickly to figure out what to do. Chris Berry and his father Michael have been researching this topic a long time. They’re trailblazers. They understand it extremely well, so I look forward to hearing what Chris has to say.”
Bick adds, “We’ll be following the Vancouver event with a Toronto conference this spring. In addition, Resource Clips will publish a newsletter specifically about graphite. It’s essential that people who are interested in this space keep up with all the ongoing developments. And there’s no better way to get started than to hear Chris Berry and the presentations from exploration and mining companies at our two-hour conference.”
The Graphite Express Conference takes place February 23, from 2 to 4 pm, at the Hotel Vancouver. For more information and free registration, click here.