GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Global lithium complex rising; market eyes Chile
Lithium prices across the globe have been moving up slowly over the week to Thursday April 8 while the market is keeping an eye on the potential impact of fresh new market restrictions in Chile, sources told Fastmarkets.
- The battery-grade lithium hydroxide price in the domestic Chinese market continued to edge higher, with some key suppliers claiming to have sold out prompt cargoes and expecting further upturns in near future.
- Battery-grade lithium prices in the seaborne Asian market is firm on market upturns amid supply constraints.
- Europe, United States’ battery-grade lithium prices continue rally on tight global supply.
The battery-grade lithium hydroxide price in China continued to play catch-up with the equivalent grade lithium carbonate price amid a backdrop of tight supply, sources said.
Fastmarkets assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China rose to 78,000-82,000 yuan ($11,895-12,505) per tonne on April 8, up by 5.96% from 73,000-78,000 yuan per tonne in the prior week.
Spot supply remains tight with consumers struggling to secure large-tonnage feedstocks for purchases while some market participants expect tight spot availability to persist over the rest of the year.
That said, both electric vehicle (EV) and consumer electronics battery manufactures are slowing down on restocking in the second quarter compared to earlier this year, a consumer said.
Some manufacturers of lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) batteries, which are used in consumer electronics, have picked up cargoes more slowly than they did previously, the same consumer said.
Fastmarkets’ assessment for the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was unchanged week on week at 88,000-92,000 yuan per tonne on April 8.
The market is also focused on the border closure and tightened restrictions in Chile, which are due to last throughout April, Fastmarkets was told.
The new restrictions are unlikely to create notable production disruptions in the country, which is one of the key lithium suppliers in South America, however, market participants expect further logistics disruptions and potential shipment delays, sources said.
Asian market climbs up
Battery-grade lithium prices in the seaborne Asian market edged higher with some consumers continuing to battle with supply constraints, partially, due to the logistics bottleneck since late last year, especially for lithium carbonate.
Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment of the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan and Korea rose to $10.50-12.00 per kg on April 8, up by 4.65% from $10.00-11.50 per kg previously.
“Even though carbonate production is going well, [some suppliers] can’t ship the products [efficiently] because they can’t find the containers,” a distributor said.
“If I have one container of battery-grade lithium carbonate from South America at $11.50 per kg [at cif Japan or South Korea basis], the [cargoes] would all be sold out at once,” the distributor added.
Since spot lithium prices in China are higher than those in other Asian countries, international suppliers will sell spot cargoes where they can make more profits, which, in return, will create a shortage in the Japanese and South Korean markets, market participants said.
“As long as there are spot cargoes on the table, they will be scrambled immediately,” a second distributor said.
Fastmarkets’ assessment of the lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea moved higher to $11.50-12.50 per kg on April 8, up by 2.13% from $11.00-12.50 per kg one week ago.
Europe, US lithium battery-grade prices continue rally
European and US lithium battery-grade spot prices continued to rise in the week to April 8 amid ongoing positivity in the technical-grade lithium equivalent markets and tight supply globally.
The technical lithium-carbonate market - which is used as feedstock for the production of battery-grade compounds - has tight global supply, with one source active in the European market only able to find spot material from Chinese suppliers at a minimum price of $11.80 per kg cif Europe, Fastmarkets was told.
Fastmarkets assessed the lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US at $13-14 per kg on April 8, moving up by 5.9% from $12.00-13.50 per kg a week earlier and recording a fourth consecutive weekly gain.
Fastmarkets’ assessment for the lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US moved up by 6.8% week on week to $11.00-12.50 per kg on April 8.
Fastmarkets assessed the technical-grade lithium carbonate spot price at $9.50-11.00 per kg on April 8, unchanged for five consecutive weeks.
Fastmarkets’ trade log for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China for March 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.