(AP)—Experts say the promise of expanded uses for "pencil lead" in electronic car, cellphone and tablet computer batteries has helped touch off the largest wave of graphite mining projects in decades.
Industrial minerals expert Don Hains says more than 200 companies are searching for graphite deposits around the world.
At least four companies are exploring prospects in the U.S. at sites in Alaska, Alabama, Nevada and Montana. And more are exploring in Canada.
The optimism also has been fueled by moves from China to reduce exports. The nation has long dominated world production.
From technological to industrial, graphite products comprise a $13 billion industry.
Explore further: China raises rare earths export quota for 2012