China’s “graphite capital” ignites high-tech growth

In the exhibition hall of a new-energy materials company in the city of Jixi, northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, artificial diamonds shine brightly under the light.

The artificial diamonds are all made from graphite blocks in an environment of high pressure and high temperature, reaching thousands of degrees Celsius.

The graphite blocks are all from Jixi, said Lin Kunfeng, deputy general manager of the new energy materials company called Haoshi.

Jixi is one of the world’s main areas for producing high-quality graphite. In 2014, the city was awarded the title of “China’s graphite capital” by the China Mining Association.

“The high-quality graphite here, which can produce various materials like natural graphene, has unique advantages,” said Xi Qi, director of the city’s graphite industry upgrading and development service center.

Graphite, a form of carbon with the characteristics of lubrication, electrical conductivity and high-temperature resistance, is a superior mineral resource in China and is vital for the development of high-tech industries.

The city now has an annual processing capacity of 7.5 million tonnes of graphite ore, with a deep-processing product capacity of 615,000 tonnes. Jixi’s annual growth rate for graphite deep-processing product output exceeded 20 percent in 2022.

The rich graphite resources in Jixi have attracted many enterprises, such as HGT, a graphite mining and processing technology company.

HGT is engaged in the processing, production and sales of graphite products, such as graphite paper and the graphite materials used to produce batteries.

“Based on the local graphite resources, our company will continue to accelerate the development of the graphite industry, optimize the industrial structure, and further research and develop the added value of industrial technology,” said Dong Li, deputy general manager of HGT.

Jixi has 66 graphite production enterprises, 80 percent of which are deep-processing enterprises, with materials produced for energy storage, sealing, conductor and other purposes.

On sci-tech innovation, the annual Central Economic Work Conference held earlier this month urged promoting industrial innovation through sci-tech innovation, and in particular forging new industries, models and impetus with disruptive and cutting-edge technologies.

Chen Lin, deputy mayor of Jixi, said, “In recent years, Jixi has used the new graphite material industry as the leading industry of transformation and upgrading, striving to turn resource advantages into industrial, economic and development advantages, and pushing the industry toward a higher end.”