GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Chinese carbonate market in stalemate; Asian markets watch China for direction
Chinese domestic battery-grade lithium carbonate producers insisted on maintaining their offers in the week to Thursday August 20, citing production costs, while buyers were unwilling to compromise due to sufficient stocks.
- The stand-off between Chinese domestic lithium carbonate buyers and sellers continued to keep the market unchanged.
- The seaborne Asian lithium markets were relatively stable due to limited spot buying activity.
- A mixture of Covid-19 uncertainty the traditional summer lull kept the European and United States prices unchanged.
Chinese domestic producers of battery-grade lithium carbonate held their offer prices firm this week, while buyers refused to accept the offers and held off from making purchases.
With both sides adopting a wait-and-see approach, Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China remained at 37,000-41,000 yuan ($5,347-5,925) per on Thursday August 20, unchanged since July 9.
“Producers are insisting relatively high offers of around 40,000 yuan per tonne, while from the buy side we are unwilling to accept any higher asking prices. I haven’t purchased any material this week and I also think it will be hard to move prices up considering the sufficient supply. I will keep watching the market,” a buyer told Fastmarkets.
“We insisted our offer prices without any adjustment. Current lithium carbonate prices are already at a low level with more producers suffering losses. I think prices will not fall significantly due to the production cost,” a producer said.
China’s technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate offers stopped rising in the past two weeks and stand at around 34,000 yuan per tonne this week. Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese technical and industrial grade lithium carbonate spot price at 31,000-34,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from previous week.
Meanwhile, market participants reported a relatively stable Chinese domestic battery-grade lithium hydroxide market this week.
Fastmarkets assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China at 45,000-51,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, also unchanged since July 9.
Asian seaborne lithium market no improvement
The seaborne cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium market was largely flat this week with little spot buying reported.
Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan and Korea at $6.50-8 per kg, unchanged from a week ago.
The lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan and Korea was similarly unchanged at $8.80-10 per kg on Thursday.
A distributor source in Asia attributed the steady markets to a relatively stable Chinese domestic market in recent weeks.
Europe, US lithium chemicals markets unmoved
The price for spot lithium compounds for technical and industrial grades in Europe and the United States remained unchanged in the seven days to August 20.
Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate 99% Li2CO3 min, technical and industrial grades, spot price ddp Europe and US at $6-7.50 per kg on Thursday, unchanged over the past six weeks in a flat market.
Market participants active in Europe said that the lithium market for technical grade material is quiet because the region was at the peak of the summer holiday period.
A distributor of technical grade lithium carbonate in Europe told Fastmarkets: ”We serve clients in the construction sector but at present they do not want to commit to long-term supply as the visibility is still unclear due to the Covid-19 economic consequences.”
In the battery-grade markets, Fastmarkets’ lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US stood at $8-9 per kg on Thursday, a level it has maintained since mid-July.
The lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US was unchanged for the fourth consecutive week at $9.75-10.50 per kg.
Fastmarkets’ trade log for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China for August 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.