Northern Graphite has restarted ore processing at the Lac des Iles (LDI) graphite mine in Quebec, Canada, due to increasing graphite demand from North American battery makers.

The move also comes as the company plans to restock inventories for certain products.

Said to be North America’s only producing graphite mine, the LDI mine and plant were temporarily placed on care and maintenance during the second and third quarters of 2023.

The decision to suspend operations comes due to “challenging markets and lower prices for its products”.

The global graphite industry experienced a downturn due to weaker demand than initially expected from the steel and electronics sectors.

The decline was compounded by the removal of electric vehicle (EV) sales incentives by China in the previous year. The flow of Chinese graphite production increased to export markets, leading to a drop in prices.

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By GlobalData

Despite the temporary suspension of the mining, Northern Graphite continued to supply its customers via stockpiled inventories. According to the company, the LDI mine’s sales volumes increased each month in the third quarter.

In a press statement, Northern said: “Total sales for the three-month period were 2,587 metric tonnes, representing an increase of more than 25% over the 2,016 tonnes sold in the second quarter, based on preliminary, unaudited data.”

Northern CEO Hugues Jacquemin said: “What we saw starting in the third quarter was that customers were really coming off the sidelines to secure supply for the year after a hiatus in the first half.

“With sales volumes up more than 25% in the third quarter, together with what we are forecasting into the fourth quarter and next year, we believe there will be continuing strong demand for our product, and we have resumed processing at LDI to make sure we have a continuous supply.”

Located 180km north-west of Montreal in the Mont Laurier area, the LDI mine has been in operation for more than 30 years.