GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Battery-grade lithium markets have a quiet start to 2020
Global lithium prices were stable in the week to Thursday January 2 due to thin trading because many market participants are still away for the New Year holiday.
- Chinese battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices held steady in the first week of 2020.
- Buying in China during the assessment period was limited ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday due to a lack of transportation during the period.
- Asian seaborne markets continue to stagnate in the New Year.
- Quiet start to 2020 for battery-grade lithium compound prices in Europe, United States
Chinese battery-grade lithium markets were largely quiet in the week to Thursday January 2, with most trading activity disrupted by the New Year holiday on January 1.
Buying is also muted due to the early Chinese New Year holiday this year, falling on January 24-30, 2020. Buyers told Fastmarkets they plan to purchase only small volumes in the two weeks before the week-long break.
“As domestic transportation will gradually stop from the middle of January due to the coming Lunar New Year holiday in late January, we plan to stock small quantities of materials in the following two weeks. I think lithium prices will have limited fluctuation as it is already near the bottom line,” a cathode maker told Fastmarkets.
As a result, Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 45,000-51,000 yuan ($6,454-7,314) per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from the previous week.
Meanwhile, the lithium carbonate index, min 99.5% Li2O3, battery grade, exw China dipped by 0.2% week on week to 48,300 yuan per tonne on Thursday from 48,406 yuan per tonne on December 26, driven by weaker sentiment from both buyers and sellers.
The industrial-grade lithium carbonate market was also rangebound in the first week of 2020. Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate spot price at 38,000-41,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday.
A confluence of limited buying appetite and producers’ insistence at current prices kept the Chinese battery-grade lithium hydroxide price unchanged week on week.
Fastmarkets assessed lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China at 52,000-57,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, unchanged since December 5.
Asian lithium seaborne market quiet
The Asian seaborne market for battery-grade lithium was also subdued due to the New Year holiday. Spot prices were unchanged week on week and market expectations continue to be weak, according to sources.
Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea at $8-9.50 per kg and lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea at $10-11.50 per kg on Thursday. Both prices maintained levels reached on December 19 when they both fell by $5 per kg on the midpoint.
Muted trading in Europe, US
Normal trading activity has not yet resumed after the Christmas and New Year breaks in Europe and the US. Market sources said they expect most participants to return from next week.
Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment of the lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US stood at $10-12.50 per kg on Thursday, unchanged since November 28.
Fastmarkets’ assessment for the lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US for the week to Thursday was $12.50-13.50 per kg, unchanged since September 12.
Fastmarkets’ trade log for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China for January 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.