- Both lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices in
seaborne Asian market ticked up amid tight availability.
- The battery-grade lithium hydroxide price in China
continued to edge higher due to supply remaining tight.
- Tight spot availability still considered the main driver
of the rally in the seaborne Asian market, market sources
Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment for
lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price
cif China, Japan and Korea rose to $12-14 per kg on May 13,
up by 4% from $11.50-13.50 per kg the prior week.
A few traders and distributors active in the region told
Fastmarkets they were sold out but continued to receive
inquiries from buyers who seriously want to take some units.
"The supply tightness is driving the seaborne Asian market
while demand is relatively stable," one trader said.
A few suppliers and buyers are negotiating on prices for
contracts in the third quarter, which is when the market is
likely to report bigger quarter-on-quarter increases, market
China prices converge
The battery-grade lithium hydroxide price in China has
continued to narrow its gap with lithium carbonate while some
market sources expect the former to surpass the latter in the
Fastmarkets' assessment for the
lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery
grade, spot price range exw domestic China rose to
85,000-89,000 yuan ($13,192-13,812) per tonne on May 13, up by
3.57% from 82,000-86,000 yuan per tonne previously.
The battery-grade lithium carbonate traded around
15,000-yuan-per-tonne higher in the spot market compared to
lithium hydroxide throughout March, after which the gap
gradually narrowed to 2,000 yuan per tonne,
Fastmarkets’ data shows.
Weak consumption from the electronics sector has weighed on
the lithium carbonate price while a few consumers restocked
adequately ahead of Labor Day holiday (May 1-5) in China,
market participants told Fastmarkets.
"We’ve purchased enough lithium carbonate and,
therefore, don’t need to top up until June," a
consumer said. "However, it’s not easy to secure
enough lithium hydroxide."
The supply of spodumene - the main feedstock for
lithium-hydroxide producers in China - remains tight so some
market participants are weighing the possibility that
producers will feed on technical-grade lithium carbonate, the
price of which is under pressure amid the restart of
operations in Qinghai province, Fastmarkets heard.
That said, market participants acknowledge that the price
gap between the two chemicals is not wide enough to encourage
lithium-hydroxide producers to seek alternative feedstock.
One producer source told Fastmarkets that lithium hydroxide
producers will not consider using technical-grade lithium
carbonate in operations until battery-grade lithium hydroxide
is traded at least 20,000-yuan-per-tonne higher than
technical-grade lithium carbonate.
Fastmarkets’ assessment for lithium carbonate
99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grade, spot price
range exw domestic China dropped to 77,000-80,000 yuan per
tonne on Thursday, down by 0.63% from 78,000-80,000 yuan per
tonne one week ago.
Technical-grade lithium spot prices in Europe and the US
continued to rise amid tight availability and logistics woes,
Lithium spot market prices for technical-grade carbonate and
hydroxide salts continued to gain ground over the week amid
ongoing tight availability and logistics delays due to high
freight rates and scarce availability of container space,
"We’re completely sold out on technical-grade
material for the third quarter and [there’s]
tight availability in Europe for spot material, which is
linked to the delays in European deliveries due to global
logistic issues and high freight rates," one upstream source
active in Europe said.
"The shipping concerns are not directly affecting lithium
prices but it certainly adds to the tightness in the market,"
the same upstream source said.
A second upstream source, who is also active in Europe,
echoed the same view.