GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Chinese battery-grade lithium prices stable on reduced stocks near year-end

The weekly Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price was unchanged on Thursday November 15 with most major buyers concluding their final deals before the end of the year.

  • Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices were stable in China and in the seaborne markets, with most producers working with limited stocks before the year-end. 
  • Technical and industrial-grade lithium carbonate output from Qinghai reduced on adverse weather. 
  • Lithium hydroxide prices held steady this week on week on slow demand. 
  • Rest-of-world prices unchanged.

China’s spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price maintained last week’s levels with several small orders concluded close to the top end of Fastmarkets’ price range. Most major buyers have stocked sufficient material before the year-end and they were in no hurry to purchase further material.

Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) at 74,000-83,000 yuan ($10,666-11,963) per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from the previous week.

“It is hard to find cheaper material as most producers have nearly sold out all their stocks, but we haven’t started new purchases as we still have material,” a buyer told Fastmarkets.

Output for technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate in the Qinghai region has fallen due to wintery weather in recent weeks. Brine evaporation – a process in the production of lithium carbonate – needs clear skies and a lot of sun. Cloud and snowy weather in Qinghai during the winter reduces evaporation rates, hindering production.

As a result, most producers insisted on higher offer prices and deals were concluded at slightly higher prices. This pushed the technical and industrial lithium carbonate price (min 99% Li2CO3) up to 68,000-73,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday from 65,000-70,000 yuan per tonne in the previous week.

Battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices in China remained unchanged this week on continued slow downstream demand.

Fastmarkets’ battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price stood at 110,000-120,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday.

Asian carbonate seaborne price stabilize
Seaborne cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium carbonate prices stabilized on quiet demand after two consecutive weeks of declines.

Fastmarkets’ battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) price was steady at $13-15 per kg, and the hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price held at $15-18 per kg cif China, Japan and Korea on Thursday.

“We keep looking to sell both battery grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide into Asia, but demand remains quite depressed [and we are] seeing prices unchanged week on week within Fastmarkets’ ranges,” a lithium producer told Fastmarkets.

European, US prices unchanged
European and US spot prices were also steady week on week on depressed demand and thin activity.

Fastmarkets assessed the battery-grade lithium carbonate price at $13-15 per kg, while the hydroxide quotation was at $15-18 per kg on Thursday.

“We have had no activity this week and see the global market quite stable week on week,” a lithium producer told Fastmarkets.

“Most of companies are now negotiating and planning contract prices for 2019, and that has dragged attention out of the spot market as most consumers have no need to procure further material for the time being,” the producer added.

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.