Graphite Creek: America's Energy Boost?

April 17, 2024

As China tightens its grip on global graphite, Alaska’s Graphite Creek could be a game-changing ace-up-the-sleeve for the United States, relieving reliance on a foreign government for this important element.

Graphite is a critical mineral used in various industries, including electronics, energy storage, and automotive manufacturing. Graphite also has many industrial uses. Currently, China dominates the global graphite market, controlling a significant portion of the world's graphite production and processing. Thus, a reliable domestic source of graphite becomes strategically important for not only the United States but other countries, as well.

It’s Alaska, It’s Big

Graphite Creek is one of the largest known graphite deposits outside of China. Located near Nome, Graphite Creek could supply the entire nation's graphite needs and offer a significant pipeline feeding the lithium-ion battery supply chain. 

The rapidly expanding electric vehicle industry alone is a massive driver of graphite demand, not to mention graphite’s use in other renewable technologies. A 2020 World Bank Group report estimates that the production of minerals including graphite, as well as lithium and cobalt, will require an increase of nearly 500% by 2050 to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies. It also anticipates that more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals will be needed to deploy wind, solar and geothermal power, as well as energy storage, required for achieving a below 2°C future.

Graphite Creek

The estimated resource volume at Graphite Creek could also increase access to high-quality graphite that drives innovations addressing climate change and the goal of transitioning to a more sustainable energy future.

Beyond the global aspects, the deposit has the potential to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the region.

Competition is Good

Developing this resource has the potential to reduce China's dominance in the graphite market and diversify the global supply chain, thus reducing America’s reliance on areas with the potential for geopolitical tensions, trade disputes, and less stringent environmental and human rights laws. The entry of a significant new player in the graphite market could also lead to lower prices for consumers.

An interesting aspect of an alternative global resource supply is the potential for the United States and other countries to form strategic alliances to develop and leverage resources such as Graphite Creek. Collaborative efforts could involve investment, technology transfer, and infrastructure development to accelerate the production and processing of graphite outside of China.

U.S. Independence 

Overall, the development of resources at Graphite Creek – an Alaska asset, has the potential to weaken China's hold on the critical mineral market. It’s time to power up America's security with domestic mineral and metal production.