Graphite Inflection Point Is Here



KEY POINTS
  • BMI puts graphite in the spotlight. At the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (BMI) conference held in Los Angeles in November, participants noted growing awareness of the pending graphite supply shortage that is expected to materialize in 2023 and get more acute by the end of the decade, sans significant expansion of graphite and battery-grade graphite materials production capacity.
  • Natural graphite outlook. While current battery technology uses more synthetic graphite rather than natural (flake) in the battery anode, newer anode chemistries and flake graphite’s advantageous carbon footprint are expected to result in faster growth of flake graphite demand versus synthetic graphite, suggesting stronger pricing power of the former over the next five to 10 years.
  • Important milestone to be passed in 2023. The energy storage (battery) market accounted for just over 20% of graphite demand in 2020, but is expected to account for 50%-plus of graphite sales in 2023, a point that, in the past, resulted in a material expansion of prices of such metals as cobalt and lithium and we believe may lead to similar price moves in graphite over the next three to five years.
  • Domestic battery material production. With intensifying efforts by battery and automotive OEMs to secure a sufficient long-term supply of graphite materials to meet their growth needs, and bolstered by production tax credits and consumer rebates contained in the Inflation Reduction Act, domestic suppliers should garner even stronger interest from downstream customers, boding well for WWR’s ability to secure customers for its Phase I graphite materials plant in Kellyton, AL, testing and commissioning that is expected to begin mid-2023 and continue into 2H23, as well as possibly accelerating the timing of the Phase II expansion of the plant.
  • The fireside chat from December 13, 2022, with WWR’s Jay Wago can be accessed on demand.
COMPANY OVERVIEW

Westwater Resources, Inc. is focused on developing battery-grade, natural graphite products. The Company’s primary project is the Kellyton graphite processing plant that is under construction in east-central Alabama. In addition, the Company’s Coosa graphite deposit is the most advanced natural flake graphite deposit in the contiguous United States — and is located across 41,965 acres (~17,000 hectares) in Coosa County, Alabama. For more information, visit:

www.westwaterresources.net

WTR INSIGHTS

Opportunities

Domestic production of graphite products for the energy storage market may make WWR a preferred supplier for battery and EV manufacturers.

Obtaining funds to complete Phase 1 and issuing a resource model for its graphite deposit may have a positive impact on valuation.

Obstacles

Delays in obtaining sufficient project funding, or in completing Phase 1 construction and start-up may negatively affect investor sentiment.


• BMI puts graphite in the spotlight. At the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (BMI) conference held in Los Angeles in November, participants noted growing awareness of the pending graphite supply shortage that is expected to materialize in 2023 and get more acute by the end of the decade, sans significant expansion of graphite and battery-grade graphite materials production capacity.

EXECUTIVE DISCUSSION

Dmitry Silversteyn: The rapid pace of growth and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), characterized by triple-digit growth of this market in China and double-digit growth in many other parts of the world, including Europe and North America, is putting increasing pressure on the material supply chain and raw material supply chain, especially for battery-grade metals.

More recently, governments across the world are beginning to realize the geopolitical risk of having 60-100% of battery material supply chain controlled by China and are enacting rules and programs, including funding availability, to domesticate or at least attempt to domesticate the battery supply chain in their respective countries.

One company working on that in the U.S. is Westwater Resources. Joining me today is Jay Wago, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Westwater Resources.

ABOUT THE EXECUTIVE

Large thumb jay wago
Jay Wago

VP of Sales & Marketing

Westwater Resources, Inc.

Jay Wago is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Westwater Resources which is developing a U.S. domestic natural graphite anode business in the State of Alabama. Jay is an internationally experienced sales, marketing, and business development professional and has more than 25 years of experience with specialty chemicals, lithium-ion battery separators, cathode, graphite anode, lithium salts, and lithium specialty products as well as battery production process technologies. Prior to joining Westwater Resources in July 2020, Jay held various leadership positions in product management, sales, new business development, and global business management at Celgard, Itochu Corporation, Dow Chemical, and Albemarle Corporation. Jay also served as Representative Director/President of Japan Acrylic Chemical (Dow Chemical subsidiary) and a board member of Nippon Aluminum Alkyls (JV between Mitsui Chemical and Albemarle Corporation).

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