GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Chinese battery-grade carbonate price flat; hydroxide market dips in New Year

The Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price was unchanged this week, with most market participants still away for the New Year holiday, while Chinese lithium hydroxide and seaborne battery grade lithium carbonate prices fell on deals done at lower levels.

  • Chinese domestic battery-grade lithium carbonate prices unchanged in post-holiday lull and amid lithium spodumene price negotiations. 
  • Lithium hydroxide market down on lower prices from suppliers. 
  • Seaborne battery-grade lithium carbonate prices cif China, Japan and Korea softer on lower prices achieved. 
  • Other global market prices were unchanged week on week.

The battery-grade lithium carbonate spot market in China was stable on Thursday January 3 on thin market activity after the New Year holiday. Consumers continue to hold back from purchasing additional material on expectations of clearer price direction after negotiations for the supply of raw material spodumene are finished.

Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) at 75,000-83,000 yuan ($10,917-12,081) per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from the previous week.

“It is taking more time to negotiate the spodumene prices this year, and most buyers haven’t placed orders yet and keep holding back on purchasing more material,” a producer told Fastmarkets. “We are close to the Chinese New Year in early February, and this is bringing price stability throughout January.”

Spodumene is a major source of feedstock for carbonate production in China. Fastmarkets assessed the monthly lithium spodumene price at $600-750 per tonne, cif China, on December 26, down from $650-800 per tonne the previous month.

Lower lithium carbonate prices in China year on year, against which the spodumene prices are pegged, were said to be the main factor behind the decrease in price month on month.

Fastmarkets’ price for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China has declined by 50.31% year on year to 75,000-83,000 yuan per tonne on January 3 from 158,000-160,000 yuan per tonne on January 4, 2018.

Meanwhile, slow demand and thin trading activity have pushed down the battery-grade lithium hydroxide price this week, with suppliers lowering their offer prices to boost sales.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) assessment moved down to 99,000-109,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, from 100,000-110,000 yuan per tonne at the end of December.

“Enough stock and weak demand from downstream consumers have softened the battery-grade lithium hydroxide price early this year,” a trader told Fastmarkets.

Asian carbonate seaborne price soft
The cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium carbonate price moved down, tracking lower domestic prices in China.

Fastmarkets’ battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) price fell to $12.50-14.50 per kg on Thursday, from $13-15 per kg the week before.

Meanwhile, the battery-grade lithium hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price held at $15-17 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on the same day.

“The seaborne cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium carbonate market has been very slow, however, lower offering prices and deals have been seen in the marketplace as suppliers aim to boost sales,” a supplier told Fastmarkets.

“Lithium hydroxide prices have remained stable as most suppliers are mainly engaged in contract negotiations for 2019,” a second supplier told Fastmarkets.

European, US prices flat
In Europe and the United States, lithium spot prices were flat week on week amid the New Year lull. Most market participants remain away on holiday, keeping the market quite slow with thin trading activity.

Fastmarkets’ assessed the battery-grade carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) spot market price on a delivered duty-paid basis to Europe and the US flat at $13-15 per kg on Thursday.

The lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot price on a delivered duty-paid basis to Europe and the US was also assessed flat from previous week at $15-17 per kg.

“The European and US market has been quite slow due to the holiday season. I have seen very thin market activity since mid-December,” a second producer told Fastmarkets. “Prices are anticipated to remain stable for the following weeks as most market participants remain away on holiday.”

Fastmarkets lithium prices

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

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

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

Martim Facada

martim.facada@fastmarkets.com

Carrie Shi

Carrie.shi@fastmarkets.com

Published

Martim Facada

Carrie Shi

January 04, 2019

14:32 GMT

Beijing, London