GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Chinese battery-grade hydroxide price drifts lower in well-supplied market; carbonate market consolidates last week’s price dip

China’s domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate market stabilized on Thursday April 11 after a slight decrease last week following a cut to the country’s value-added tax (VAT) on April 1, while the battery-grade lithium hydroxide price edged down due to deals reported at lower prices.

  • Chinese battery-grade lithium carbonate market stabilized after slight decrease last week. 
  • Lithium hydroxide market drifted lower in China. 
  • Industrial-grade carbonate material prices steady on tight supply. 
  • Rest of the world prices unchanged.

China’s spot battery-grade lithium carbonate market stabilized this week after a slight decrease in the week before. Last week, producers lowered their offer prices to adjust for cheaper costs as a result of the VAT cut to 13% in early April.

But downstream buyers remain cautious of making big purchases in case prices fall again, so there were only small amounts transacted in this latest pricing period.

As a result, Fastmarkets’ Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) was unchanged week on week at 70,000-78,000 yuan ($10,422-11,613) per tonne on Thursday.

“Battery-grade carbonate prices have not changed this week. We haven’t purchased this week and will wait to see what the prices will be in the coming week,” a cathode producer said.

The technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate price (min 99% Li2CO3) also remained stable this week at 62,000-67,000 yuan per tonne despite tight availability of material.

In contrast, sufficient supply and slow demand weighed on the battery-grade lithium hydroxide spot market this week with lower prices reported.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price fell to 90,000-95,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, from 93,000-98,000 yuan per tonne from previous week, according to Fastmarkets’ assessment.

“Prices for battery-grade hydroxide edged down this week and lower prices of 95,000 yuan per tonne for micro-grade hydroxide [typically sold at a premium] were also heard, but our prices are not that low,” a producer said.

Asian lithium seaborne price steady
There was no change in the seaborne cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium prices this week amid a very quiet market.

Fastmarkets’ battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) price stood at $11.50-13.50 per kg on Thursday, while hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) was at $15-16 per kg, both on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis.

“The seaborne China, Japan and South Korean spot market has been mostly flat over the course of the past week and we don’t expect much price change due to the current low demand,” a second producer told Fastmarkets.

European and US lithium prices sat flat
The European and United States’ lithium spot market prices were flat week on week on slow market activity. Market participants told Fastmarkets that most costumers remain well covered by their long-term contracts and have no need to procure spot material.

Fastmarket assessed the battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) spot price delivered, duty-paid to Europe and the US as stable week on week at $12-14 per kg on Thursday.

The lithium hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) spot price was also flat week on week at $15-16 per kg in Europe and the US.

“The European and US spot markets remain quite stable week on week on very slow market activity. We had some inquiries from buyers but with no real intention to purchase additional material in the spot market,” a third lithium producer told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets lithium prices

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

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

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