GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: China lithium market stagnant before Lunar New Year

China’s domestic battery-grade lithium-carbonate spot price remained stable this week, while the transportation of lithium compounds stopped ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday (February 4-10).

  • Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices stable ahead of the holiday. 
  • Lithium hydroxide prices unchanged on thin trading activity. 
  • Seaborne Asian cif China, Japan & Korean prices remain unchanged. 
  • Spodumene prices assessed stable month on month. 
China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate spot market stagnated this week, with most market participants in China away for the holiday. There was very thin trading activity reported to Fastmarkets, while the transportation of lithium compounds gradually stopped over the course of the week.

Fastmarkets’ last assessed the Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) at 73,000-81,000 yuan ($10,885-12,078) per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from the previous week.

“We have started holidays this week and have no intention to purchase more material during the holiday,” a cathode producer told Fastmarkets.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide spot market in China remained unchanged as well, similarly because most producers and buyers had stopped doing business due to the holiday period.

Fastmarkets assessed the battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price at 99,000-109,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from last week.

“The lithium market has been quiet and we had no transactions this week as everyone has left on holiday,” a trader told Fastmarkets. “Not much will happen in the next few weeks while China is away,” the trader added.

Asian lithium seaborne price rangebound
The battery-grade lithium carbonate price, cif China, Japan and Korea, remained at its current level without any fluctuations this week. Buyers have held back on procuring spot material while waiting for the end of the Lunar New Year holiday.

Fastmarkets’ assessed the battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) price at $12.50-14.50 per kg on Thursday, stable week on week.

While the lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price was assessed at $15-17 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on Thursday, also maintaining the price level from last week.

“The market has been very slow and we don’t expect any trading activity due to the Lunar New Year holiday,” a producer told Fastmarkets. “Prices will probably remain unchanged in the next few weeks.”

European, US markets stable
The European and US spot markets sat unchanged week on week due to the diminishing trading activity.

Fastmarkets assessed the battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) spot price at $13-15 per kg, delivered duty-paid to Europe and the United States, on January 31, unchanged week on week.

Concurrently the lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot market price was assessed at $15-17 per kg on Thursday, also stable and on a delivered duty-paid basis to Europe and the United States.

“We did not have much activity across the week with battery-grade materials, most of the material sold was technical or industrial grades,” a second producer told Fastmarkets. “The market remains typically slow and prices aren’t expected to change.”

Spodumene prices steady
The lithium spodumene price stabilized at the end of January following the flat lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide spot market prices in China, which have maintained their current levels for the past month.

Lithium spodumene producers and consumers use lithium carbonate and hydroxide spot prices in China as a price reference.

Fastmarkets assessed the monthly lithium spodumene min 5-6%, cif China price at $600-750 per tonne on January 30, unchanged month on month.

“Our spodumene prices have decreased year on year due to the falling lithium carbonate and hydroxide spot prices in China. Having said that, we don’t believe there is more room for the spodumene price to fall below $600 per tonne,” a spodumene producer told Fastmarkets.

“Lower prices would be problematic for some spodumene producers due to their production costs. Spodumene is a major raw material source for lithium chemical compounds, giving more robustness to the price of these compounds in China,” the producer added.

global lithium market 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

February 01, 2019

13:10 GMT

Beijing, London