GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: China’s lithium hydroxide prices down on lower deals

The China lithium hydroxide price moved down due to lower concluded deals this week, while China’s domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate prices and the rest of the world’s battery-grade lithium spot prices kept stable.

  • Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices unchanged on thin trading activity.
  • Battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices trend down on unimproved demand.
  • Industrial-grade carbonate price in Qinghai moves slightly up on limited output during winter.
  • Prices across the rest of the world unchanged with most buyers still in contract negotiations with their suppliers.

China’s spot battery-grade lithium carbonate market held steady this week due to most major buyers having sufficient stock of material and despite battery-grade lithium carbonate produces’ higher offer prices.
Fastmarkets last assessed the Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) at 74,000-83,000 yuan ($10,638-11,932) per tonne on Thursday 29, unchanged from the previous week.

“Lithium-carbonate prices have not changed this week as most buyers have completed purchases for the year,” a producer told Fastmarkets. “I don’t think prices will fluctuate much in the following weeks either due to limited buying activity.”

Industrial-grade lithium carbonate prices from the Qinghai region in China have slightly firmed week on week due to reduced output over winter.

Industrial-grade lithium carbonate prices in China moved up slightly to 68,000-75,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday 29 from 68,000-73,000 yuan per tonne the week before.

“Production from the Qinghai region typically sees a reduction of about 60-70% throughout the winter due to snow and rain, which dramatically reduces evaporation rates,” a Chinese lithium distributor told Fastmarkets.

Reduced consumption and producers’ eagerness to sell material have slightly pushed down the battery-grade lithium hydroxide spot prices in China.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price moved down to 105,000-115,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, down from 110,000-120,000 yuan per tonne the previous week, according to Fastmarkets’ market assessment.

“There have been deals concluded at lower prices and micro-grade hydroxide prices also moved down with deals concluded at around 115,000 yuan per tonne recently. Demand hasn’t improved and prices are lacking upward support for the moment,” a second producer told Fastmarkets.

“We have lowered our battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices to keep selling material, however, we don’t expect to lower our prices further in the weeks to come,” a second producer told Fastmarkets.

Asian seaborne prices hold at current levels

The battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices, on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis, held steady this week due to limited spot deals being reported.

Most buyers and suppliers remain engaged with their contract price negotiations for 2019, therefore are holding back on spot activity.

Fastmarkets’ battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) price was assessed at $13-15 per kg on November 29, while the lithium hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price was assessed at $15-17 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on Thursday 29 November, both unchanged from the previous week.

“The Asian seaborne spot market remains quite slow becuse we are busy with contract negotiations for 2019, having received very few material inquiries,” a third producer told Fastmarkets.

Stable European, US spot prices
The European and US battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide spot prices remained unchanged week on week on a lack of trading activity.

Most producers and consumers are currently negotiating their 2019 lithium contract prices and are, therefore, largely absent from the market.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot market price was at $15-17 per kg on Thursday 29 November, on a delivered duty-paid basis to Europe and the United States, stable week on week.

Meanwhile, the battery-grade lithium carbonate spot price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) was assessed at $13-15 per kg on a delivered duty-paid to Europe and the United States on Thursday 29 November, also unchanged from last week.

“The market remains very slow and we don’t anticipate much activity until the end of the year because most producers and consumers are currently negotiating contract prices,” a lithium distributor told Fastmarkets.

Global lithium prices

Fastmarkets’ trade log for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China for November includes all trades, bids and offers reported to Fastmarkets.

Learn more about Fastmarkets’ lithium pricing methodology and read the latest lithium price spotlight here.

All lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide and lithium spodumene prices are available in our Battery Raw Materials Market Tracker. Get a sample of the report here.

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