GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Sporadic buying continues to weigh on Chinese lithium prices

China’s domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price narrowed downward in the week ended Friday September 6 with most deals concluded at lower end of Fastmarkets’ published range, while those few deals struck at higher rates were done so on credit terms.

The Chinese lithium hydroxide market also softened this week with more producers lowering their offer prices to entice buyers amid sluggish spot conditions.

  • China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate price range narrows downward
  • Technical and industrial-grade carbonate prices soften in China
  • Chinese lithium hydroxide price falls after deals concluded at lower levels in quiet market
  • Asian battery-grade lithium price unchanged amid limited spot buying

China’s domestic battery-grade lithium carbonate price softened at the top end of the range after more deals were concluded toward the low end this week, with deals done above 60,000 yuan ($8,396) per tonne mostly done on credit terms, hence the higher price. Downstream buyers continue to purchase on a hand-to-mouth basis and still hold a negative view toward the market in the short term.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China at 58,000-62,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, narrowing downward by 1,000 yuan per tonne from 58,000-63,000 yuan per tonne a week earlier.

“The lithium market is in a mess with some small-sized producers continuing to lower prices to attract deals in a quiet market. If lithium prices keep falling, I think the whole lithium industry will be facing a severe challenge of reshuffle,” a producer told Fastmarkets.

“Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices are still soft this week and we concluded at above 60,000 yuan per tonne on account,” a cathode maker said.

Technical and industrial-grade lithium carbonate prices in China remain under downward pressure with buyers reluctant to accept higher prices. Most concluded prices were at around 50,000 yuan per tonne, while some prices below 50,000 yuan per tonne were also heard.

China’s battery-grade lithium hydroxide market declined this week with lower prices seen on the spot market. Producers had no choice but to lower prices to boost sales while demand continues to show no improvement.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China at 66,000-72,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, down by 1,000-2,000 yuan per tonne from 68,000-73,000 yuan per tonne on August 29.

“As demand from higher nickel-content NMC (nickel, manganese, cobalt) cathodes in batteries hasn’t picked up in China’s domestic market, sales for battery-grade lithium hydroxide are rare at the moment. No matter how low we offer, there are limited deals concluded,” a second producer said.

Seaborne Asian lithium market holds

The seaborne Asian battery-grade lithium spot market was steady with prices unchanged this week, but prices face downward pressure from limited activity in the market and price weakness in China.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot prices cif China, Japan & Korea at $10-12 per kg on Thursday, unchanged since August 1. The lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea was similarly flat this week, holding at $12-14 per kg on Thursday, and maintaining the same range since August 1.

“Export prices are better than China’s domestic prices, and we are still offering at above $10 per kg for battery-grade lithium carbonate to our customers in Japan and South Korea without any adjustments,” a third producer said.

European, US market flat

Battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide spot prices in Europe and the United States were unchanged this week amid quiet conditions. Most market participants had just returned from holidays and were in no hurry to purchase.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US at $11-13 per kg on Thursday, maintaining a level held since May 23. The lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US stood at $13-14 per kg on Thursday, unchanged since August 1.

“The market is very quiet with no movement at all this week, and activity is expected to pick up in following weeks after the holiday mood,” a fourth producer said.

lithium prices, lithium carbonate prices, lithium hydroxide monohydrate prices

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

September 06, 2019

11:45 GMT

London, Beijing