- China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate
prices stabilized this week after a decrease last week.
- China’s lithium hydroxide market held firm
at current range
- Production not greatly affected in Japan and South Korea,
while market sources expect the economy to slowdown amid the
spread of coronavirus (nCoV-2019).
- Coronavirus leaves European, US prices at a
Domestic Chinese battery-grade lithium carbonate spot prices
briefly stabilized this week after declining last week, while
downstream demand remained poor because most cathode
producers were not purchasing large amounts in a flat market.
"The battery-grade lithium carbonate price was mostly stable
this week but remains under pressure while downstream
purchases are still not up to expectations," one producer
"We’re starting to receive lower offers of
46,000-47,000 yuan per tonne for battery-grade lithium
carbonate materials produced from spodumene recently, down
from a previous level of 48,000 yuan per tonne. I think
battery-grade lithium carbonate prices will find it hard to
move up short term," a buyer said.
The battery-grade lithium hydroxide market did not fluctuate,
with prices static while most producers insist on offering
"Demand for hydroxide is expected to increase, which would
support the current price range, with most producers
unwilling to lower prices," a second buyer said.
Asian market flat, market participants wary economy
Rare spot transactions were made in the battery-grade lithium
spot market cif China, Japan and Korea this week, sources
With the coronavirus still spreading in Japan and South
Korea, most market participants are worried that the economy
will slow down, although current production is mostly still
running normally, Fastmarkets heard.
"There is no big problem producing at the moment in South
Korea, but we are worrying about lower demand as a result of
economic slowdown," a distributor said.
"Considering the spread of the virus in Japan, the economy
will slow soon. For most companies in Japan, April is the
beginning of the fiscal year so we will wait to see," a
second distributor said.
Europe, US lithium prices flat amid uncertain
Lithium carbonate and hydroxide battery grade spot prices in
Europe and the United States remained unchanged in the week
to Thursday March 12 while the coronavirus spread intensifies
across continental Europe, deterring market participants from
taking positions amid a weak price environment.
Sources told Fastmarkets that the coronavirus outbreak across
Europe - and the government lockdown measures to stem the
spread - are yet to affect the supply chain although it looks
set to dent demand from end-consumer markets.
"Before the coronavirus [outbreak] I was expecting lithium
prices to recover in the second half of the year…in
the third quarter, precisely. I believe everything has been
pushed forward by at least one quarter….now I think
there will be a recovery in prices in the last quarter of the
year," a producer in the European market said.
"We’re close to reaching the bottom of the cycle
but I don’t expect any [price] increases any
time soon," a second source said.
Lithium prices have declined over the past two years after
additional capacity expansions outstripped demand growth,
while the virus outbreak has added further bearish pressure
over the first quarter of this year.