GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: China’s lithium market dips further on slow buying

The Chinese domestic spot lithium price fell further on Thursday June 18 with thin downstream buying leading to more pressure and lower prices, while prices in the rest of the world kept flat, sources said.

  • China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate prices fell again after a week of stabilization.
  • China’s lithium hydroxide market declined due to quiet buying.
  • Asian battery-grade lithium prices range bound on thin trading.

China’s domestic battery-grade lithium carbonate spot prices fell below 40,000 yuan ($5,644) per tonne on the low end after a week of stabilization seven days before.
Continuously weak demand from downstream cathode makers brought increasing pressure into the lithium market, which pushed more producers to lower their prices to boost sales, sources said.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 39,000-42,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday June 18, down from 40,000-43,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

“Prices below 40,000 yuan per tonne for battery-grade carbonate are increasing this week, even for material produced from spodumene. The downstream sector has shown no improvement and buying activity remains slow,” a producer told Fastmarkets.

“The lithium carbonate market continued its downtrend this week while more producers lowered prices to attract deals in a sluggish market. We plan to buy small volumes before the end of this month,” a buyer told Fastmarkets.

China’s battery-grade lithium hydroxide market weakened, following no recovery from the high-nickel ternary sector and lower prices pervading the spot market, sources said.

Fastmarkets’ lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was at 46,000-52,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday June 18, down from 47,000-53,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

“China’s battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices edged down on a lack of buying and producers who are eager to sell are just giving lower prices,” a second buyer said.

Asian seaborne lithium market slow
The cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium spot market remained stagnant this week, with trading rarely reported and prices range bound, despite some lower offering prices heard, sources said.

Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price at $6.50-8.50 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on June 18, unchanged from a week ago.

Europe, US markets remain in wait-and-see mode
The price for spot lithium compounds in Europe and the US were unchanged in the seven days to June 18 on slack demand amid the uncertainty surrounding the short-term outlook.

One buyer source believes lithium carbonate prices will stabilize, while a second source active in the upstream supply chain said negotiations for lithium carbonate technical-grade were at around $7 per kg.

Additionally, market participants are aware that prices will recover somewhat in the near-term, Fastmarkets heard.

Fastmarkets’ lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grades, spot price ddp Europe and US was at $6-8 per kg on June 18, unchanged for three consecutive weeks after falling by 3.4% from May 28.

Fastmarkets’ seaborne battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price was assessed at $9-10.50 per kg on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis on Thursday, unchanged week on week.

“We haven’t seen more fluctuation in Asian seaborne prices because spot activity is pretty low this week. Buyers seem to be holding back. We received several inquiries from our customers, but they don’t really want to buy,” a distributor said.

“Some cathode makers in Asia are also suffering due to a lack of orders from battery makers, which led to less lithium supply. I think it’s a somewhat of an impact after the Covid-19 virus shock,” a second producer said.

Global lithium market price

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 June 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.

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