GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: China battery-grade lithium hydroxide dips sharply week on week

China’s lithium market continued to move down on ample availability of material and depressed demand, leading the battery-grade lithium hydroxide spot price to sharply fall over the week to August 1.

Seaborne Asian lithium spot prices followed the domestic price in China with small price adjustments, while the battery-grade lithium hydroxide price in Europe and the United States dropped.
  • The Chinese battery-grade lithium hydroxide spot price fell by 5,000 yuan ($720.83) per tonne week on week on material availability and poor demand.
  • Chinese spot prices and seaborne Asian prices have also moved down week on week.
  • Battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices in Europe and US decline week on week, battery-grade lithium carbonate stable.
China’s domestic battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices fell further this week, with some producers lowering prices to boost sales. Most downstream buyers were in no hurry to purchase material because they hold small volumes of lithium compounds in stock and expect lower prices in the following weeks.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide spot market in China sharply decreased week on week, with prices dropping by 5,000 yuan per tonne due to good material supply and weak demand.

Fastmarkets last assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, ex-works, spot price at 70,000-75,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday August 1, down from 75,000-80,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

“Battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices continue falling on availability of material and low demand,” a buyer told Fastmakerts. “Even the micro-grade battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices have moved down.”

“Battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices have had a sharp decline this week and we’ve been selling our battery-grade material at the same spot price as the technical and industrial-grade material,” a lithium producer told Fastmarkets. “There is a high availability of material and not enough demand to absorb all battery-grade material in the market.”

Micronized battery-grade lithium-hydroxide spot prices typically trade at a premium of 5,000 yuan against the battery-grade lithium-hydroxide spot price assessed by Fastmarkets.

In times of market oversupply and low demand, micronized material typically loses its price premium because lithium producers are trying to boost sales, producers and consumers in China said.

Fastmarkets also reported a lower lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, exw domestic China, spot price on Thursday, assessing the market at 64,000-68,000 yuan per tonne, down from 67,000-70,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

“Lithium producers in China are lowering prices to boost sales to increase cash flow on the current very slow demand,” a cathode market told Fastmarkets. “We have heard some lower prices at 60,000-64,000 yuan per tonne for battery-grade lithium carbonate, however, this might be companies speculating because most producers are still at 65,000 yuan per tonne.”

Cathode and battery makers spoken to by Fastmarkets confirmed that due to the current excess of battery-grade lithium compounds in China they are holding back on procuring more material and holding lower levels of stock due to the possibility of lower prices in the weeks to come.

In some cases, Fastmarkets was told that some of these downstream consumers are operating with just enough stock for a full week of production, which has increased their spot market activity because they are buying new material on a weekly basis.

Technical and industrial-grade lithium carbonate prices have also moved down week on week on slow buying activity.

Fasmarkets last assessed the Chinese domestic lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grade, ex-works, spot market price at 57,000-61,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, down from 58,000-63,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

Falling seaborne Asian lithium prices
The seaborne Asian battery-grade lithium spot market fell week on week following the continuous fall in prices in China amid an excess of material and flat demand.

Fastmarkets last assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery-grade spot price at $12-14 per kg, cif China, Japan and Korea, on Thursday August 1, down from $13-14 per kg the week before.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery-grade spot price was $10-12 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on August 1, down from $10.50-12 per kg week on week.

“Lower prices are being achieved in the seaborne Asian market due to the combination of sufficient supply and flat demand,” a second lithium producer told Fastmarkets. “The falling prices in China keep adding pressure to the rest of the world’s prices.”

Lower hydroxide prices in European and US
Battery-grade lithium hydroxide spot prices in Europe and the United States have moved lower week on week on availability of material and more competitive prices offered from China.

Fastmarkets last assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price at $13-14 per kg on a ddp Europe and US basis, on Thursday, down from $13-15 per kg the week before.

“Prices at $15 per kg seem quite high at this time of the year due to the competitive Asian prices as well as the downtrend over the past year,” a third lithium producer told Fastmarkets. “Prices have gone down and are expected to keep going down due to the current availability of material in the global market.”

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price at $11-13 per kg on a ddp Europe and US basis on August 1, unchanged from the previous week.

“The battery-grade lithium carbonate spot price in Europe and the US is already at quite a low level and close to Chinese prices if we add all transportation costs and taxes. For this price to decline, we would have to see even weaker prices in China,” a distributor told Fastmarkets.

Global lithium market prices

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

August 02, 2019

13:20 GMT

London, Shanghai