GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Slow demand continues to weigh on China lithium prices

By Martim Facada, Carrie Shi
Published: Friday, 14 June 2019

China’s domestic lithium market remained weak over the week ended June 14, with lithium hydroxide prices drifting lower while the lithium carbonate market remained flat.

Downstream buyers were cautious of buying more material and were waiting for a clearer price direction, while the lithium hydroxide market moved down due to poor demand and after some producers lowered prices to boost sales.

  • Battery-grade lithium carbonate market remains flat with some producers cutting prices.
  • Lithium hydroxide prices move down further in China.
  • Industrial-grade lithium carbonate material market weak.
  • Rest of the world’s prices stable.
The battery-grade lithium carbonate price decreased this week due to slow demand from downstream buyers. In anticipation of further prices decrease in the rest of this year, sellers dropped prices to boost material sales.

Fastmarkets’ last assessed the Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) at 70,000-77,000 yuan ($10,112-11,123) per tonne on Thursday June 13 on an ex-works basis, down from 72,000-77,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

"Lower prices have been heard in the last two months because some producers are eager to boost sales in the flat market. We haven’t started any new purchases this week and hold a watchful attitude on the market," a downstream cathode producer told Fastmarkets.

The industrial-grade lithium carbonate market slid down this week, with suppliers starting to accept some lower concluded prices, which were in the range of 63,000-67,000 yuan per tonne.

Battery-grade lithium hydroxide market remained uncertain, with prices falling further this week and suppliers lowering prices to boost sales.

Fastmarkets assessed the price for the battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot market at 80,000-86,000 yuan per tonne on June 13, down from 83,000-88,000 yuan per tonne on June 6.

Seaborne Asian prices unchanged
The seaborne battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide spot market prices in Asia were unchanged week on week amid quiet buying activity.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the price for battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) was at $11-12.50 per kg on Thursday, stable week on week.

Fastmarkets assessed the price of lithium hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) at $14-15 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on Thursday, also stable with the previous assessment.

"The seaborne Asian market remains flat and prices have not changed much this week. Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices are being heard at $11-12 per kg and hydroxide prices are around $14 per kg. Prices below this level are rarely heard from my side at the moment," a distributor told Fastmarkets.

Flat European and US prices

Battery grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices in the European and United States’ spot markets were reported stable week on week on slow trading activity.

Fastmarkets’ assessed the battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) spot price, delivered duty paid Europe and US, at $11-13 per kg on Thursday June 13, flat with the previous market level.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot prices was at $14-15 per kg, also on a delivered duty-paid basis in Europe and the US and similarly unchanged week on week.

"We haven’t seen much activity this week and the market remains slow, moving within the current Fastmarkets price ranges," a lithium producer told Fastmarkets.

"Not much price movement is expected in the coming days because consumers are showing little appetite to procure more material," the producer added.

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

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