Albemarle’s spodumene concentrate bidding event concludes at 9,372 yuan/t exw China: sources

The result of Albemarle’s spodumene concentrate digital bidding event on Tuesday March 26 was 9,372 yuan ($1,230) per tonne on an ex-works China basis, according to sources close to the matter

The bidding was for 10,000 tonnes of SC5.77 spodumene concentrate, with the material already at Zhenjiang city in China’s Jiangsu province, sources said.

This price was equivalent to approximately $1,200 yuan per tonne on a SC6 CIF China basis, according to market participants.

Albemarle said this bidding event had an emphasis “on promoting price transparency and allowing participants to state what they consider the appropriate price to be through private bids.”

Albemarle is planning another bidding event for spodumene concentrate on April 24, Fastmarkets learned.

The concluded price was slightly higher than Fastmarkets’ latest spodumene spot price assessment.

Fastmarkets’ twice-weekly assessment of spodumene min 6% Li2O, spot price, cif China was $1,000-1,100 yuan per tonne on March 22, up by $50-90 from $910-1,050 per tonne on March 20.

Fastmarkets will next publish its spodumene price assessment on Wednesday March 23.

Spot prices for spodumene have been steadily increasing since late February amid improved demand and higher offers, with the latest assessment up by 23.5% from February 23.

Albemarle sold spodumene concentrate on an ex-works basis rather than on the Fastmarkets specification, which is on a CIF basis that spot cargoes are sold on. The material was also available on a prompt basis, with the material deliverable within 30 days.

The latest auction showed room for further upside and improved market sentiment, sources told Fastmarkets, adding that it remains to be seen how reflective the auction is of the overall open and competitive market.

The concluded price was not significantly out of line with other public transactions for spodumene.

Prior to Albemarle’s bidding event, Australian lithium miner Pilbara Minerals scheduled an online auction for March 18 of 5,000 dry metric tonnes of spodumene concentrate for fourth-quarter delivery.

Before this auction, Pilbara Minerals had accepted an offer at $1,106 per dmt on a SC5.5 CIF China basis, normalized to approximately $1,200 per dmt on a SC6.0 CIF China basis after adjusting for lithia content and including freight costs.

Pilbara Minerals used to conduct regular auctions for spot spodumene concentrate in 2021 and 2022, which helped with price transparency in the spodumene market back then, given the material’s persistently thin spot liquidity, Fastmarkets understands.

Market sentiment improved following Pilbara Mineral’s spot sales, with several spodumene sellers trying to push up their spot offers, saying that their prompt deliveries of spot material should not be traded below Pilbara Mineral’s delivery price.

The use of trading platforms for transactions is also prevalent in the iron ore market, and some lithium participants hoped their market would mature in a similar way, Fastmarkets reported.

In addition, prices of lithium carbonate futures contracts on China’s Guangzhou Futures Exchange (GFEX) were on the rise in the past few weeks, lending support to spodumene prices.

“As futures prices rise, we can accept higher spodumene prices, because ultimately we are buying the material to produce lithium carbonate and sell carbonate into the futures market to arbitrage,” a Chinese lithium trader told Fastmarkets.

Keep up to date with the latest spodumene prices, data and forecasts on our dedicated spodumene price page.

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