LITHIUM CONF: Flexibility is key for lithium industry, executives say
Published: Thursday, 13 June 2019
The flexibility to either produce lithium carbonate or hydroxide is essential to surviving in the lithium industry in the coming years, market participants said at Fastmarkets’ 11th Lithium Supply and Markets Conference in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday June 11.
With lithium hydroxide continuing to grow in market share
globally, participants expect the material to overtake lithium
carbonate as the preferred choice of lithium compound used in
lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries within the next
Lithium carbonate, however, is still expected to have strong
demand as it is currently the most widely used lithium compound
in li-ion batteries.
"We need to be prepared for either product the customer is
demanding," Pablo Altimiras, vice president of lithium and
iodine business for SQM, said. "Hydroxide consumption is
growing more rapidly than carbonate, but we will still have
high levels of carbonate demand for many, many years."
Producers agree that this flexibility comes from working
closely with consumers, as lithium products are seen as almost
"tailor-made" depending on end-user necessities.
"Demand for this or that specific product will depend on the
evolution of the battery market and of course what the
customers are looking for," David Ryan, vice president for
corporate strategy and investor relations at Albermarle,
"Overtime, we see a more significant shift to hydroxide, but
carbonate will always be a great part of our portfolio," Ryan
"There are going to be nuances in demand, regarding each
particular market, the specifications of the material needed,
and others. So, you have to be flexible and grow in
relationship with your customers," Emma Hall, vice president
for corporate development and marketing at Tianqi Lithium
lithium carbonate price index in China was last
calculated at 74,458 yuan ($10,766) per tonne ex-works on June
6, from 74,686 yuan per tonne ex-works a week earlier.
lithium hydroxide monohydrate domestic spot price assessment in
China was 83,000-88,000 yuan per tonne ex-works on
June 6, stable since May 23 but down from 85,000-90,000 yuan
per tonne on May 16.
"China is a very important market and we are always closely
watching what happens in the country, regarding different
levels of qualities and different end uses, as it is also a
supplier of batteries and electric vehicles to the rest of the
world," Ryan said.