The market share taken by lithium hydroxide continues to
grow globally, and market participants expect the material to
overtake lithium carbonate as the preferred lithium compound in
lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries within the next decade, they
said at Fastmarkets’ 11th Lithium Supply &
Markets Conference held in Santiago, Chile, in June.
Demand for lithium carbonate, currently the most widely used
lithium compound in Li-ion batteries, is expected to remain
"We need to be prepared for [whichever] product the customer
is demanding," Pablo Altimiras, vice president of lithium and
iodine business at Chilean producer SQM, said. "Hydroxide
consumption is growing more rapidly than carbonate, but we will
still have high levels of carbonate demand for many, many
Producers agreed that this flexibility comes from working
closely with consumers, with lithium products seen as almost
"tailor-made" depending on end-user needs.
"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,
"Over time, we see a more significant shift to hydroxide,
but carbonate will always be a great part of our portfolio,"
"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,
Fastmarkets’ weekly lithium carbonate index,
min 99.5% Li2O3, battery-grade, exw China, was calculated at
74,458 yuan ($10,795) per tonne on June 6, down from 74,686
yuan per tonne ex-works.
Meanwhile, Fastmarkets assessed the price of lithium
hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery-grade, spot
price exw domestic China, at 83,000-88,000 yuan per tonne 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," Ryan added, "and we are
always closely watching what happens in the country, regarding
different levels of quality and different end-uses, because it
is also a supplier of batteries and electric vehicles to the
rest of the world."