Un-Hyping Graphite With Basic Facts For Investors

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May 23, 2012
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While much of graphite’s interest comes in the form of future expectations, we offer some basic facts and fundamentals of what many see as the ‘next big mineral thing.’

 

Since so much of graphite’s hype is based on conjecture — bullish projections for the future production of electric and hybrid vehicles, the successful commercialization of graphene, the growth in the number of pebble bed nuclear reactors (PBNRs) — it is perhaps worth standing back and looking at what graphite is currently all about.

Graphite Basics

Some of the characteristics of graphite that set it apart as an extremely useful industrial mineral are:

  • Absorbs radio waves
  • Chemically inert
  • Flame retardant
  • Good electrical conductivity; unique as a non-metal in this capacity
  • Good machinability
  • High absorption of gases and vapors
  • High compressive strength
  • High conductivity as a solid; low conductivity as porous foam, cloth and tape
  • High melting point
  • High moderating ratio
  • High radiation emissivity
  • High resistance to chemical attack and corrosion
  • High resistance to erosion
  • High resistance to thermal shock
  • High thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Low coefficient of thermal expansion
  • Low friction; self-lubrication
  • Power to bulk neutron absorption coefficient
  • Stability and strength at high temperatures (up to 4,500° F in non-oxidizing atmospheres)
  • Stiffness of solid; flexibility of filament, cloth or tape

 

Source: Archer Exploration Limited

 

Aside from synthetic graphite, there are three different types of naturally occurring graphite, all of which occur in metamorphic rocks: amorphous, flake/crystalline flake and vein/lump.

 

 

Amorphous

Flake/Crystalline Flake

Vein/Lump

Abundance

Common

Less Common

Rarest

Carbon Content

70-85%

85-90%

90-96%

Price

Cheapest

≤ 5x price of amorphous

Most expensive

Physical Characteristics

Small crystals

Larger crystals, separate flakes

Solid lumps

 

 

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