GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: China lithium carbonate prices firm on bullish sentiment

By Carrie Shi, Dalila Ouerghi
Published: Friday, 04 September 2020

China’s domestic battery-grade lithium carbonate market kept firm with more producers insisting on higher offers in the week to Thursday September 3 on expectations of renewed downstream demand and elevated local prices, although not all market sources are certain this will materialize, Fastmarkets heard.

  • China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate offer prices flat with producer expectations of higher prices in coming weeks.
  • China’s lithium hydroxide market steady this week amid limited fluctuation.
  • Seaborne Asian market makes no significant rise while prices are rangebound.
  • Europe, US lithium technical-grade carbonate spot markets drift lower.

China’s spot battery-grade lithium carbonate market maintained its momentum in the first week of September with most producers pushing for offer prices of around 40,000 yuan ($5,846.86) per tonne or above, while some separate deals were reported at 39,000-40,000 yuan per tonne.

Concurrently, a few small deals with lower concluded prices of 37,000-38,000 yuan per tonne for battery-grade carbonate were heard in the spot market, sources said.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 37,000-41,000 yuan ($5,408-5,993) per tonne on Thursday September 3, unchanged week on week and stable since July 9.

"There were more offers reported at 40,000-41,000 yuan per tonne for battery-grade lithium carbonate this week. We heard some deals at 39,000-40,000 yuan per tonne, moving up from 38,000 yuan per tonne, with lower priced deals dwindling. But we haven’t placed more spot orders yet," one buyer said.

"We’ve been told some key producers have tight supply and current battery-grade lithium carbonate prices are firm. Despite some downstream sectors showing signs of recovery, the overall market hasn’t totally picked up so I’m not sure prices will increase by a large range," a second buyer revealed.

"The market is getting some positive sentiment from downstream customers’ purchasing, especially on quantity. Our existing customers are increasing their volumes and we expect lithium prices to recover in the fourth quarter of 2020," a producer told Fastmarkets.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide market held its range without any great changes this week while downstream demand remained thin and no increased buying activity was reported.

Fastmarkets’ lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price exw domestic China was at 45,000-51,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday September 3, flat since July 9.

"Battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices didn’t fluctuate this week and there weren’t participants in the market. I haven’t placed orders for hydroxide recently," a third buyer said.

Asian seaborne lithium market rangebound
The seaborne battery-grade lithium market cif China, Japan and Korea was static this week, with most prices rangebound and no significant changes reported.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price at $6.50-8 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on Thursday September 3, flat week on week.

Fastmarkets assessed the seaborne battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price at $8.80-10 per kg cif China, Japan and Korea, unmoved from the week before.

"The bullish sentiment in China’s domestic market is pushing prices higher, while the Asian seaborne market is unchanged and maintaining a high level, in my opinion," a fourth buyer said.

Europe, US lithium market quiet
The battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide spot markets in Europe and the US remained steady over the week while the technical-grade lithium carbonate spot price fell amid ongoing market weakness.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grades, spot price ddp Europe and US at $6-7.20 per kg on Thursday September 3, down from $6-7.50 per kg where it had remained since July 16.

One distributor active in Europe said that now the summer season was ending activity would pick up after the market has stayed relatively quiet in August - the peak summer holiday period in Europe.

Meanwhile, battery-grade lithium carbonate spot prices have kept flat in the past two weeks following a drop in mid-August amid slack market conditions.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US at $7.50-9 per kg on Thursday September 3, unchanged over the past two weeks yet down from the $8-9-per-kg level it had previously held for six weeks.

Learn more about Fastmarkets’ lithium pricing methodology here and read the latest lithium price spotlight here.

Fastmarkets’ trade log for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China for September includes all trades, bids and offers reported to Fastmarkets.

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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