Lithium continues to rise on the strength of the Chinese market
According to Fastmarkets’ assessment, Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices edged up in East Asia in the past week amid tight availability of spot units, tracking the previous rally in China. Sources in China raised their price indications for battery-grade lithium carbonate in the East Asian region during last week, taking them closer to those in the Chinese market.
“Chinese prices still hold a large premium over regional prices, and it’s more profitable to sell units to the Chinese market. Plus, freight rates are also very high, so prices across the two markets should be at the same level,” a Chinese expert said.
Participants across the seaborne East Asian market noted that the supply of lithium units was tight, while added further strength to the rally in prices for battery-grade lithium carbonate. Prices for technical-grade lithium carbonate in East Asia’s seaborne market mirrored the rally in the battery-grade segment amid tight supply.
Prices for technical-grade lithium carbonate will continue to creep up toward $28-29 per kg over the coming weeks. Fastmarkets’ assessment of the lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grades, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea was at $26-28 per kg on Thursday, up by $1 per kg from $25-27 per kg a week earlier.
FIRM CHINESE MARKET
Prices for both battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide in China were unchanged in the past week with consumers making purchases on an as-needed basis before the next round of month-end restocking, when they typically raise buying rates. Furthermore, lithium prices in China are already high, which limits their upside potential.
While the salt lakes in China’s Qinghai province experiences a seasonal drop in production during winter, its impact on the supply of feedstock for brine-fed technical-grade lithium carbonate production and lithium prices in China is rather limited.
There is limited impact from production reduction at salt lakes in Qinghai, which is around 30%. The producers there have stock of brine, and traders have stocked up as well. They are releasing older units to the market, which offsets the impact from lower production.
Furthermore, spot supply of battery-grade lithium hydroxide in China seemed sufficient, while that of lithium carbonate of the same grade was tighter. Market participants are not expecting aggressive restocking toward the end of the year.
US, EUROPE CATCHING UP WITH CHINA
in Europe and the US, prices for battery- and technical-grade lithium strengthened over the past week, tracking the previous rally in China, with tight spot supply providing additional support to the markets.
Sources continued to report very tight availability of technical-grade compounds and buyers struggled to secure spot units. Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grades, spot price ddp Europe and US at $25.25-27.00 per kg on Thursday, up by $0.75-1.00 per kg from $24.50-26.00 per kg a week earlier.
Squat supply and raised prices for technical-grade carbonate are filtering though the hydroxide market since lithium hydroxide producers in Europe typically use lithium carbonate as their feedstock. Fastmarkets assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate min 56.5% LiOH.H2O technical and industrial grades, spot prices ddp Europe and US at $27.00-29.00 per kg on Thursday, widening upward by $0.50 per kg from $27.00-28.50 per kg a week earlier.