GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Battery-grade lithium carbonate holds steady; Asian seaborne spot hydroxide soft

The Chinese spot market for battery-grade lithium carbonate held steady in the week to Thursday July 23 on improved downstream demand and firm industrial-grade carbonate prices.

  • China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate prices were stable on improved demand
  • Industrial-grade lithium carbonate prices remained firm in China
  • Prices were unchanged in China’s lithium hydroxide market
  • Asian battery-grade lithium hydroxide spot prices were soft with lower prices seen
Some producers were unwilling to sell at a lower level and intend to raise prices slightly.
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 37,000-41,000 yuan per tonne ($5,282-5,853) on Thursday, unchanged from the previous week.
“I heard talk that battery-grade lithium carbonate producers would like to increase prices, but it hasn’t reflected on prices this week. I think it will be hard to increase prices in the current sufficient market. I will hold a watchful stance in the coming weeks,” a buyer told Fastmarkets.
“According to our recent orders, downstream demand has showed some improvement with more orders placed. We haven’t increased prices yet, but I think prices will not fall further at least,” a producer said.
“Combined with several factors, including improved downstream buying and higher industrial-grade prices, we insist on higher offers above 40,000 yuan per tonne,” a second producer said.
The lithium carbonate index, min 99.5% Li2O3, battery grade, exw China increased by 0.4% week on week to 38,413 yuan per tonne on Thursday July 23 from 38,262 yuan per tonne on July 16, driven by higher data points at the top end of the carbonate assessment range.
Technical- and industrial-grade lithium carbonate from China’s Qinghai region remained firm this week.
Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese technical- and industrial-grade lithium carbonate spot price at 31,000-34,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday July 23, unchanged from previous week.
China’s battery-grade lithium hydroxide market showed no fluctuation in prices. Downstream buying was inactive, but most producers are insisting on current prices.
Fastmarkets’ lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was at 45,000-51,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday July 23, unchanged from last week.
Asian seaborne lithium hydroxide prices soft
Seaborne cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium carbonate prices were unchanged this week, while battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices softened on lower prices seen in the spot market with some sellers eager to sell.
Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price at $6.50-8 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis, unchanged from a week ago.
The seaborne battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price was assessed at $8.80-10 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis, down from $9-10 per kg the previous week.
“We see some lower prices for battery-grade lithium hydroxide of below $9 per kg from some suppliers for spot buying, but spot buying activity remains slow,” a distributor said.
“Lower spot prices of below $9 per kg for battery-grade hydroxide could be achievable, but contract prices are still higher than this level,” a second buyer said.
Europe, US hydroxide technical-grade market drifts lower on persistent weakness
The European and United States technical-grade lithium hydroxide price fell by 2.3% week on week on Thursday amid continued weak demand.
Fastmarkets assessed the price of lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, technical and industrial grades, spot price ddp Europe and US at $7.60-9 per kg on Thursday, down on the low end from $8-9 per kg, where it held steady over the past fortnight.
Elsewhere, the carbonate technical- and industrial-grade spot markets in Europe and the US remained steady amid slack demand.
In other related developments, battery start-up firm Britishvolt signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Welsh government to work on plans to develop a 30 GWh electric vehicle battery factory in Wales.
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

July 24, 2020

14:45 GMT

London, Beijing