GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Battery-grade prices stagnant in inactive markets

Battery-grade lithium compound prices were stable across all markets Fastmarkets assesses on Thursday June 11 due to very low buying activity.

  • Demand continues to be weak in China's domestic market, but producers refused to lower prices further.
  • China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide markets stabilized after falls of around 2% a week ago.
  • Asian seaborne prices continue to range trade despite some lower offers heard.
  • European and US lithium prices steady but under pressure from cheaper industrial and technical grade material.

China’s domestic battery-grade lithium carbonate spot price stabilized this week with most producers maintaining their offer prices. On the demand side, participants said downstream markets have shown no recovery and the whole market continued to face pressure.
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 40,000-43,000 yuan ($5,659-6,084) per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from the previous week.
“Mainstream prices for battery-grade lithium carbonate are still 40,000 yuan per tonne or slightly above this week, but since some small-sized producers have already given lower offers of below 40,000 yuan per tonne, the whole market remains under pressure,” a producer told Fastmarkets.
“We haven’t operated at high operation rates for cathode materials as the whole market situation hasn’t improved greatly, and demand for raw materials hasn’t increased,” a downstream cathode maker said.
The technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate market edged down further this week with lower prices reported on the spot market. Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate spot price at 30,000-34,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, down from 31,000-35,000 yuan per tonne from a week ago.
China’s battery-grade lithium hydroxide price also stabilized after a decline a week ago, but demand from the high-nickel ternary sector remained quiet.
Fastmarkets’ lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China stood at 47,000-53,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday.
Asian seaborne lithium market quiet
The cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium spot market remained slow this week. Market participants continued to report lower offers but there were no deals concluded at those levels.
Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan and Korea at $6.50-8.50 per kg, unchanged from a week ago.
The battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan and Korea was also unchanged week on week $9-10.50 per kg on Thursday.
“I only see some lithium spot offering prices moving, while real trading is rare. I heard of some lower offers for battery-grade lithium carbonate cif China at around $5.50-6 per kg, but I don’t think these prices can be concluded as China’s domestic prices are already at a lower level,” a distributor said.
Europe, US lithium prices unchanged in a quiet market
The price for spot lithium compounds in Europe and the US were unchanged in the seven days to June 11 on continued slack demand.
Fastmarkets assessed the price of lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US at $8.50-9.50 per kg on Thursday, unchanged over the past week after dropping by 2.7% from $8.90-9.60 per kg on May 28, pressured by weakness in the more liquid market for technical grade compounds.
Fastmarkets' lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grades, spot price ddp Europe and US was $6-8 per kg on Thursday, unchanged week on week after falling 3.4% from May 28. 
A slew of extensive stimulus measures to boost the adoption of the electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe - recently announced by a number of European governments – is unlikely to support the lithium battery-grade domestic market in the near term, Fastmarkets learned.
A source active in both Asia and Europe said, “I don’t think those measures will have a significant impact in the short term on the European market for lithium battery-grade compounds as the impact of any stimulus measure would be seen on a longer timeframe rather than immediately.”

Learn more about Fastmarkets’ lithium pricing methodology here and read the latest lithium price spotlight here.
Fastmarkets’ trade log for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China for June includes all trades, bids and offers reported to Fastmarkets.
All lithium carbonate, hydroxide and spodumene prices are available in our Battery Raw Materials Market Tracker. Get a sample of the report here.

Carrie Shi

Carrie.shi@fastmarkets.com

Dalila Ouerghi

dalila.ouerghi@fastmarkets.com

Published

Carrie Shi

Dalila Ouerghi

June 12, 2020

14:20 GMT

London, Beijing