GLOBAL LITHIUM WRAP: Seaborne battery-grade lithium compound prices dip on slow consumption, falling offer prices

Chinese domestic lithium compound prices were unchanged week on week on Thursday October 4 due to a national holiday, while spot prices in the other regions Fastmarkets assesses were softer on slow consumption and lower prices offered.

  • Chinese domestic prices were rolled over due to the Golden Week holiday. 
  • Seaborne cif China, Japan and South Korea prices fell due to market expectations for lower prices, falling offer prices and scarce demand. 
  • Consumers keep holding back on procuring material, waiting for the market to hit the bottom. 
  • Slow demand in Europe and the United States add to lower price sentiment to pull European and US spot prices down.

Chinese domestic lithium carbonate and hydroxide spot prices were rolled over on Thursday as per the Fastmarkets methodology due to the national Golden Week holiday (October 1-5).

The Fastmarkets Chinese domestic spot battery-grade lithium carbonate price (min 99.5% Li2CO3) stands at 78,000-82,000 yuan ($11,354-11,936) per tonne on Thursday October 4.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price was also rolled over at 110,000-125,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday.

Seaborne Asian prices soften
Meanwhile, the seaborne cif China, Japan and Korea battery-grade lithium carbonate price softened on Thursday after suppliers reduced their offer prices on market expectations for lower prices and scarce demand.

Consumers are holding back from making additional purchases ahead of long-term contract negotiations, which are due to happen between the end of October and the end of 2018, and while waiting for prices in China to find a floor.

Fastmarkets assessed battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) price cif China, Japan and Korea at $14-16 per kg on Thursday, down $1 on both ends of the range from $15-17 per kg last week. 

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) assessment fell by 50 cents to $18-19 per kg on Thursday on a cif China, Japan and Korea basis.
“China has been quiet for obvious reasons [due to the national holiday] and the seaborne market keeps on softening week on week,” a lithium producer told Fastmarkets.

“We see the battery-grade lithium carbonate as low as $14 per kg and hydroxide as low as $18 per kg, but offers and conversations with the market indicate the market could even be trading below these price levels,” the producer added.

“The carbonate price has gone down more sharply due to the rapid downward movement within the Chinese spot market,” a lithium distributor told Fastmarkets. “We are already offering material below $14 per kg and even at this level we could not reach any sales.”

Softer European, US lithium prices
European and US prices have also softened week on week, influenced low demand, falling Asian spot prices and weaker price expectations.

Fastmarkets assessed the battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO) spot price at $14-16 per kg on a delivered duty-paid basis to Europe and the US on Thursday, compared with $15-17 per kg.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) price also fell down by 50 cents to $18-19 per kg on Thursday, down from $18.50-19.50 per kg previously.

Consumers and producers acknowledged that spot prices in Europe and the US were virtually the same as the cif China, Japan and South Korean market price.

Slow consumption in Europe and the US as well as material offered from China were said to be the main reasons.

“We have not achieved sales this week but market expectations remain negative as lower prices are being offered in the market from a Chinese supplier,” a producer said.

“Our offer prices have decreased week on week and if demand remains depressed we would not be surprised to see lower prices in the forthcoming weeks,” a distributor told Fastmarkets.

There is no trade log for October market assessments because prices were rolled over in China due to the national holiday. Please view the September trade log here.

Learn more about Fastmarkets’ lithium pricing methodology 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.