GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: China’s lithium carbonate prices down after VAT cut

China’s domestic lithium carbonate spot market moved down this week after the lower value added tax (VAT) that came into effect on April 1 alongside the Tomb Sweeping holiday in China, while lithium prices in other global markets were stable week on week.

  • The battery-grade lithium carbonate market dips following lower VAT in China.
  • Lithium hydroxide market sat unchanged week on week.
  • Lithium prices in other global locations remained stable from last week.
China’s spot battery-grade lithium carbonate market moved down week on week after producers adjusted their offer prices down by around 1,000-2,000 yuan ($148-297) per tonne following the lower VAT from April 1. Consumers have held back on procuring additional material ahead of the public holiday in China on April 5-7 alongside expectations of lower prices.

Fastmarkets’ assessment for the Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) was at 70,000-78,000 yuan per tonne on a China ex-works basis on Thursday April 4, down from 72,000-80,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

“Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices are mostly at 76,000-78,000 yuan per tonne this week, some major producers lowered prices following the VAT fall this month. Lower prices at 70,000-72,000 yuan per tonne have also been heard in the market,” a buyer told Fastmarkets.

“Prices are expected to fall further in the weeks to come,” the buyer added.

Technical and industrial-grade lithium carbonate prices have also declined week on week after the VAT cut and Chinese public holiday.

Fastmarkets’ assessment for the Chinese domestic spot technical and industrial-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99% Li2CO3) was at 62,000-67,000 yuan per tonne on a China ex-works basis on April 4, down from 62,000-69,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

Although the lithium carbonate price slid down slightly this week in China, the battery-grade lithium hydroxide market kept stable on thin trading activity ahead of the Chinese holiday.

Fastmarkets assessed the price of battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) at 93,000-98,000 yuan per tonne on a China ex-works basis on Thursday, unchanged from the previous week.

“The lithium-hydroxide market has been very steady this week and we haven’t received many material inquiries,” a producer told Fastmarkets.

“We don’t anticipate any price change before the holiday at the end of the week,” the producer added.

Asian lithium seaborne price unchanged
The seaborne battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices cif China, Japan and Korea remained unchanged week on week on thin trading activity.

Fastmarkets’ assessment for the battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) spot market price was at $11.50-13.50 per kg on Thursday, unmoved from last week.

While the lithium hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot price was assessed at $15-16 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on April 4, similarly unchanged from the previous week.

“Our lithium prices on a seaborne cif China, Japan and Korean basis remain stable week on week due to lack of consumers appetite because most of our customers are covered by their annual contracts,” a trader told Fastmarkets.

Europe and US lithium prices move sideways
The European and United States' battery-grade lithium spot market traded sideways in the week on slow market activity and thin trading.

Fastmarkets’ assessed the battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) spot price at $12-14 per kg on Thursday, static week on week.

While the lithium hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot price was assessed at $15-16 per kg, on a ddp Europe and US basis, unchanged from the previous week, according to Fastmarkets data.

“The lithium spot market in Europe and the US for both carbonate and hydroxide battery-grade compounds remains very slow with little activity,” a second producer told Fastmarkets.

“Prices will probably remain unchanged for the coming days because most consumers are covered by their long-term contracts,” the producer added.

global lithium market prices

Fastmarkets’ trade log for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China for April 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

April 05, 2019

12:45 GMT

London, Beijing