Chinese lithium price weakness persists with CIF CJK stable

Spot lithium prices in China’s domestic market declined over the week to Thursday June 20, due to ongoing weak spot demand from the sluggish downstream battery sector and bearish sentiment, sources told Fastmarkets

But CIF China, Japan and Korea (CJK) battery-grade lithium prices held steady over the past week.

European and North American lithium prices softened.

China

Spot lithium prices in China continued to drop amid sustained weakness in consumer appetite, and the outlook for demand in July also remained pessimistic.

The most active July lithium carbonate contract closed at 94,400 yuan ($12,998) per tonne on Thursday, down by 3,400 yuan per tonne from the close of 97,800 yuan per tonne a week earlier.

“Futures prices are still falling. Previously, the market expected the price bottom of battery-grade lithium carbonate at 95,000 yuan per tonne. But given the poor demand and little hope for near-term demand improvement, both spot and futures prices are already below that level,” a Chinese lithium producer source said.

Market participants expected the weak demand for lithium to persist into July.

Some sources said lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode production could further fall in July from June, while the nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) sector is even less hopeful in terms of any near-term improvement.

“The lithium hydroxide market is under great pressure. The demand is dead. Cathode makers are selling their hydroxide inventories,” a Chinese lithium trader said.

While some sources expected cathode makers to restock lithium in August or September following destocking in the prior months, others said it remained unclear how demand would develop in the third quarter.

US-based Albemarle held an online auction for 100 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate on Wednesday, with the result concluded at 93,605 yuan per tonne, according to sources.

This result was 6,900 yuan per tonne lower than the previous result at 100,505 yuan per tonne for 100 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate on June 5.

Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment of lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 92,000-94,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, down by 3,000-4,000 yuan per tonne from 95,000-98,000 yuan per tonne a week earlier.

And Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment of lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 83,000-90,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, down by 3,000-4,000 yuan per tonne from 87,000-93,000 yuan per tonne a week earlier.

CIF CJK

Spot lithium prices in the CIF CJK market held steady over the past week amid ongoing thin demand, while market participants closely monitored the decline in China’s domestic market.

“There’s much less inquiries for spot lithium recently,” an international lithium producer source said.

Another international lithium producer source echoed the same view, adding that the sentiment in the CIF CJK market was also bearish amid the ongoing weakness in China’s domestic market.

An East Asian consumer source expected the lithium price weakness in China to flow through into the CIF CJK market sooner or later.

Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment of lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea was $13.00-14.00 per kg on Thursday, unchanged since June 11.

Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment of lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot prices cif China, Japan & Korea was $13.00-14.00 per kg on Thursday, unchanged since June 11.

However, multiple market participants noted that the consumers of technical-grade lithium carbonate are less sensitive to the prices and that the spread between battery-grade and technical-grade lithium carbonate are very narrow.

Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment of lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grades, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea was $12.50-13.90 per kg on Thursday, up by $0.40-0.50 per kg from $12.00-13.50 per kg a week earlier.

Europe and North America

European and North American battery-grade lithium prices slipped this week due to sluggish spot market activity, sources reported.

“The market is calm at the moment,” a seller said.

Bearish sentiment trailed weakness from Asia. This offset slightly higher freight costs from Asia to Europe, according to a second seller.

Meanwhile, technical-grade lithium prices were unchanged across the board in Europe and North America.

Fastmarkets’ latest price assessments for lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe were both $13.50-14.50 per kg on Thursday, down from a week prior.

And Fastmarkets’ price assessments for lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp US and Canada and lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O, 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price ddp US and Canada both dropped week on week to $13.80-15.00 per kg.

Gain a competitive edge with our lithium prices. Talk to us about our market-reflective lithium prices, data and analysis.

What to read next
Rapidly expanding capacity for the recycling of lithium-ion batteries in the United States and Canada has raised worries over the supply of raw materials to feed processors in the region, sources have told Fastmarkets
Chinese mining giant CMOC reported a 178% year-on-year increase in cobalt metal production for the first six months of 2024, according to an announcement by the company on Friday July 12
Analysis by UK-based industry group ChargeUK shows that there are now more than 930,000 public, home and workplace charging points for electric vehicles (EVs) across the nation, supporting 1.1 million such vehicles
China’s nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) battery output in June registered fell to 20.5 gigawatts hours (GWh), down by 1.5 GWh, or 6.8%, from the 22 GWh in May, and down by 3.7 GWh, or 15.3%, from the 24.2 GWh in March, according to the data from China Automotive Battery Innovation Alliance (CABIA)
The imminent production of commercial-scale battery-grade lithium hydroxide in the US by American Battery Technology Co (ABTC) will help domestic cathode makers to improve their inventory management by shortening lead times, according to the company’s top executive.
Germany-based Volkswagen Group’s battery company PowerCo and California-based QuantumScape have entered into an agreement to industrialize QuantumScape’s solid-state lithium-metal battery technology, the companies announced on Thursday July 11