China Minmetals sets up graphite unit in battery materials push

BEIJING, Dec 19 (Reuters) - China Minmetals Corp said on Thursday it had set up a graphite subsidiary in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, as the state-owned miner continues its push into battery materials.

The move marks Minmetals’ first foray into graphite, a form of carbon used in pencils and steelmaking and is also required to make a key component, known as the anode, of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Minmetals already produces other battery ingredients such as lithium, nickel and manganese.

The new venture, known as China Minmetals Group (Heilongjiang) Graphite Industry Co, will tap the resources of the Yunshan graphite mine in Heilongjiang’s Luobei county, according to a statement on Minmetals’ official Wechat account.

The statement did not provide a timeline for development.

Minmetals will also create an integrated value chain to make spherical graphite and anode materials, the company’s president, Guo Wenqing, said at an industry forum in provincial capital Harbin on Wednesday that marked the establishment of the venture, according to the statement.

The event was also attended by an executive from Chinese battery and electric vehicle maker BYD .

The Yunshan mine is the biggest graphite mine in Asia, containing resources of more than 1 billion tonnes, according to a Chinese state media report from November 2016. (Reporting by Tom Daly, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)