GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: China extends public holiday due to coronavirus; market assesses potential impact

Global battery grade lithium markets were steady in the week to Thursday January 30 with Chinese markets still away for the Lunar New Year holiday which has been extended due to the Wuhan coronavirus and European and United States prices yet to be affected by any impact from the health emergency

  • Chinese spot lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices were rolled over on Thursday for the Lunar New Year holiday in line with Fastmarkets’ pricing methodology. 
  • Rest of the world market stable week on week. 
  • European and US market participants are taking a watchful approach on the potential effect of the coronavirus on supply and demand.

The domestic China and Asia seaborne lithium compound prices were rolled over on Thursday January 30 due to the Chinese New Year holiday, in line with Fastmarkets’ pricing methodology.

The national holiday was originally due to run from January 24 to January 30 but was extended to February 2 by the central government in response to the Wuhan coronavirus, which was first detected in the Chinese province of Hebei.

Elsewhere, Fastmarkets’ lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US was stable week on week in a healthy trading environment at $10-11.50 per kg on Thursday.

The lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US also remained steady on last week at $11.50-12.50 per kg on Thursday.

During the week, market chatter was focused on the Wuhan virus, but prices were not affected. Market participants said is too soon to estimate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the European batteries market and they are taking a watchful approach.

“It is still too early to determine what impact potential logistics restrictions might have; for the moment we continue with business as usual since we have enough material on the ground and firm demand,” a European trader said.

The market was stable, as in previous weeks, and some sources said it was near to a bottom.

“We have a very steady and pleasant January, better than expected because no one is trying to push prices down as before,” the above trader added.

“If you purely look at production costs… we have already reached the bottom already [in terms of prices],” a producer said.

But he also added that even though the market is stable now, some smaller producers could still lower their numbers in the following weeks to liquidate stocks.

“Some sellers are willing to go below costs… Not traditional ones but smaller producers – they are starting to provide unreasonable pricing,” he added.

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 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.