GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Chinese lithium prices unchanged in quiet market, seaborne hydroxide prices fall

China’s domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price was steady this week due to slow market activity, with just small deals concluded; rest-of-world lithium hydroxide prices fell due to continued low demand.

  • Chinese battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices were unchanged week on week on thin spot market activity. 
  • Battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices in other global markets were softer on sluggish demand. 
  • Ongoing contract price negotiations kept global spot market activity slow. 
  • European battery-grade lithium carbonate price was unchanged.


The Chinese spot markets for battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide were in stalemate week on week in the latest assessment.

Lithium suppliers in China hold lower stock levels and are maintaining offer prices, but consumers are holding back from procuring additional material in the spot market ahead of contract price negotiations.

Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) at 74,000-83,000 yuan ($10,679-11,978) per tonne on Thursday November 22, unchanged from the previous week.

“We are currently well stocked and are in no hurry to purchase more material again. As for next year’s purchasing, we will wait and see for clearer market direction,” a buyer told Fastmarkets.

The availability of industrial-grade lithium carbonate from China’s Qinghai region has been a major factor for falling lithium compound prices in China over the past year.

But production of industrial-grade lithium has dropped in Qinghai during the winter because the weather has slowed the rate of brine evaporation required in the production process.

This has reduced the amount of industrial-grade lithium carbonate available in the Chinese market. As a result, industrial-grade lithium carbonate prices in China were supported at current levels, unchanged week on week at 68,000-73,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday.

The Chinese battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price was also unchanged week on week at 110,000-120,000 yuan per tonne on slow demand and thin spot market activity, according to Fastmarkets’ market assessment.

Moreover, the battery-grade lithium hydroxide micro-grade price, which typically trades at a premium of 5,000-10,000 yuan per tonne to Fastmarkets’ market assessments, was reported this week within Fastmarkets’ price range of 110,000-120,000 yuan per tonne.

Slow spot market activity and low demand in China were said to be the main factors lowering the micro-grade material price.

Asian hydroxide seaborne price moves down
Seaborne cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium carbonate prices held unchanged this week with most downstream buyers negotiating next year’s contract prices with their suppliers, and spot prices remained at current level without any fluctuation.

The Fastmarkets battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) price stood at $13-15 per kg on Thursday, unchanged from the previous week.

Meanwhile, the lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price softened on weak demand to $15-17 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on Thursday, from $15-18 per kg previously.

“Our battery-grade lithium carbonate prices remain unchanged week on week despite slow market activity,” a distributor told Fastmarkets.

“The price we had to reduce this week has been the battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices and it would be exceptional to sell material today as high as $18 per kg,” the distributor added.

European, US hydroxide prices down
European and US battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot market prices softened week on week on slow trading activity, with market participants focused on contract price negotiations.

Fastmarkets assessed the battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot price at $15-17 per kg on Thursday down week on week from $15-18 per kg, on a delivered duty-paid basis to Europe and the United States.

“We have been offering material as high as $17 per kg in the spot market from some of our leftover stock but demand remains quite depressed as most of market participants are currently in contract price negotiations,” a lithium producer told Fastmarkets.

“Prices as high as $18 per kg in the spot market would be currently unrealistic,” the producer added.

Slow demand and a lack of trading activity kept carbonate prices unchanged at $13-15 per kg, on a delivered duty-paid basis to Europe and the United States.

Fastmarkets lithium prices

Fastmarkets’ trade log for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China for November includes all trades, bids and offers reported to Fastmarkets.

Learn more about Fastmarkets’ lithium pricing methodology and read the latest lithium price spotlight here.

All lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide and lithium spodumene prices are available in our Battery Raw Materials Market Tracker. Get a sample of the report here.

Martim Facada

martim.facada@indmin.com

Carrie Shi

Carrie.shi@indmin.com

Published

Martim Facada

Carrie Shi

November 23, 2018

11:08 GMT

Beijing, London