Competition hobbles amorphous graphite market; Asia leading lithium price rises

By IM Staff
Published: Monday, 30 November 2015

Russian coke is reaching European market and with end users swapping to cheaper material, prices for amorphous graphite are following flake values down. In lithium meanwhile list price increases have been confirmed in China as export destinations feel market tightness.

Competition from coke hobbles amorphous graphite market

By Shruti Salwan

Demand for amorphous graphite continues to be sluggish owing to the slowdown in global steel manufacturing, with low-cost coke products from Russia putting further strain graphite prices approaching the end of 2015.

Sources told IM at the end of October that coke shipments from Russia, which has been an intermittent producer of graphite in the past, have been reaching European customers seeking to substitute natural amorphous graphite with cheaper material. This is likely to put pressure on amorphous graphite prices, which have failed to recover after falling by 20%, on average, in H1 2014, dragging selling values to their weakest point in more than four years. Prices from China, the leading producer of amorphous graphite, have been in decline since 2012, with few signs of a recovery in the short term.

With the World Steel Association forecasting that global steel demand will decrease by 1.7% to 1.5bn tonnes in 2015, consumption of amorphous graphite is unlikely to improve as prices trend towards the lower end of existing ranges.

Today, the price of amorphous graphite grading at 80% C (-100 mesh, FOB China) stands at $395/tonne, down from $420/tonne in H1 2014. Meanwhile, the price of amorphous graphite grading at 80-85% C (-200 mesh, CIF Europe) has been fluctuating in the range of $400-$430/tonne.

Graphite, amorphous, -200 mesh, 80-85% C, China, FCL, CIF, Europe port

price1  

Graphite, flake, 94-97% C, +80 mesh, FCL, CIF Europe port $1,050-1,150/tonne

Graphite, flake, 85-87% C, +100mesh -80mesh, FCL, CIF, Europe port $550-600/tonne Graphite, flake, 94-97%C, -100 mesh, FCL, CIF, Europe port $750-800/tonne

Graphite, amorphous, -200 mesh, 80-85% C, China, FCL, CIF, Europe port $400-430/tonne

Graphite, amorphous ore, 70-75% C, ex-works Austria $500-550/tonne 

Asia leading lithium price rises

By Laura Syrett, Albert Li

A raft of lithium producers released financials in November which leant weight to the view that lithium demand is increasing and that this is pushing up prices in some regions. Prices in Asia, which rely on imports of lithium to supply end markets, have officially risen, with locally-based suppliers implementing increases to list prices. Prices in Europe are also believed to be strengthening, however there have been no confirmed increases in North or South America.

Chile-based Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM) the world’s largest lithium supplier, said in its third quarter earnings results in November that demand was rising and supply is likely to tighten. Chile supplies the majority of the world’s lithium at the most competitive prices, based on extraction from natural brines in the Andean salars. Sources suggested to IM that it is in the interest of South American lithium producers to keep prices low in order to remain competitive, given that there are likely to be large contracts up for grabs from battery makers in North America and Asia.

Electric vehicle (EV) production in China during October increased eight-fold year-on-year (y-o-y) to 50,700 units, according to a report by the China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

According to CCID Consulting, more than 20 companies including BYD Auto, FDG Electric Vehicles and China Aviation Lithium Battery Company have heavily invested in Li-ion batteries, with a total investment of Rmb 3.4963 trillion ($548.77 bn*) and capacity of 59.6m KWh. 

*Conversion made November 2015

Lithium carbonate, min 99-99.5% LiC2O3, large contracts, packed in bags, CIF Asia 

Prices2  

Lithium hydroxide, 56.5-57.5% LiOH, large contracts, packed
in drums or bags, del Europe or US $8-9/kg

Lithium hydroxide, Chinese, (56.5-57.5% LiOH), packed in
drums or bags, large contracts, del Europe $8.2-8.9/kg

Lithium carbonate, min 99-99.5% LiC2O3, large contracts,
del continental US $6-6.5/kg

Lithium carbonate, min 99-99.5% LiC2O3, large contracts,
packed in bags, CIF Asia $6-6.5/kg  

IM’s full price listing will now only be published online at www.indmin.com/PricingDatabase. If you have any comments or concerns, or wish to discuss any of the grades or prices listed, please contact Laura Syrett, Prices Editor, at lsyrett@indmin.com.

Bold indicates a price change from the previous month (it may have changed more than once during the month). All prices are listed in US$ and quoted per tonne unless indicated.