• China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate price rose again on continued material shortage and higher offers from producers.
  • China’s industrial-grade lithium carbonate price followed up on higher offers and limited supply.
  • Asian battery-grade lithium spot prices were steady, with some deals concluded at the top end of the range.
Chinese domestic lithium carbonate market participants reported greater enthusiasm for higher prices among producers, encouraged by supply shortages in the spot market. Buyers said it is becoming increasingly harder to achieve cheaper deals and concluded prices moved to a higher level under the bullish market atmosphere.

“Prices are moving higher this week with concluded prices at 45,000-47,000 yuan per tonne, and more at the high end of the range. Market outlook is quite bullish and most producers are offering much higher prices,” a buyer told Fastmarkets.

“There are lots of offering higher prices up to 50,000 yuan per tonne because everyone thinks the market is moving into a tighter position,” a producer said.

As a result, Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment for the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 45,000-47,000 yuan ($6,881-7,187) per tonne on Thursday, up from 44,000-45,000 yuan per tonne a week ago.

China’s technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate market still saw higher offers up to 43,000-45,000 yuan per tonne, but there was limited spot material available.

Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate spot price at 39,000-42,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, up from 39,000-41,000 yuan per tonne on December 10.

Meanwhile, there were signs battery-grade lithium hydroxide producers intend to push up prices slightly in the Chinese domestic market. For now, however, the range held stable week on week.

Fastmarkets’ lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was at 41,000-46,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday. 

“Battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices are stable this week, but some suppliers plan to these increase prices as well, so I think prices might see some slightly increase in the short term,” a second buyer said.

Deals done at top end of Asian seaborne lithium range
There was optimism in the Asian seaborne market, with some sellers giving firmer offering prices for battery-grade lithium carbonate of $6.50-7.50 per kg and more deals concluded on the high end of the range, according to market participants.

With prices contained within the current range, the cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium prices held stable on a weekly basis.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price at $6-7.50 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on Thursday, while the lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price, cif China, Japan and Korea stood at $8.50-9.50 per kg.

Europe, US market bullish for year ahead
The Europe, US battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide spot market remained stable on limited spot activity in the run up to year-end but sources told Fastmarkets they expect prices to firm up in the new year on bullish sentiment stemming from the more active Chinese market.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US at $7.50-8.50 per kg on Thursday, unchanged for 10 consecutive weeks after narrowing down from $7.50-8.80 per kg in early October.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US at $9-11 per kg on Thursday, unchanged for three consecutive weeks after widening up from $9-9.80 per kg at the end of November.

Meanwhile, technical-grade spot prices held steady following recent increases in recent weeks as market participants reported increased year-end buying for hydroxide technical-grade and tighter supply for carbonate industrial grade.

A hydroxide technical-grade supplier active in Europe said, “Stocks are shifting from suppliers to consumers as they would like to have some working stocks to start the new year.”

A second source active in the carbonate technical-grade market said at the moment imports of lithium carbonate in Europe are not very competitive as prices are increasing rapidly due to tighter supply and higher demand.

"Chinese lithium carbonate producers from brine are quoting high offer prices as their production is a little bit down due to the winter temperatures while demand in China is quite high, South America sourced carbonate is more competitive in Europe at the moment,” the same source said.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grades, spot price ddp Europe and US at $6.50-7.50 per kg on December 17, unchanged over the past week but up from $5.80-7 per kg at the beginning of December.

Similarly, the lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, technical and industrial grades, spot price ddp Europe and US was at $7.50-9 per kg on December 17, unchanged week on week but up from $7.50-8.20 per kg at the beginning of December.



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 December 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.