Proposal to amend impurity specifications for black mass payable indicators: pricing notice

Fastmarkets proposes to amend the impurity specifications for its weekly payable indicators for black mass in South Korea, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Further development of battery shredding and black mass-producing facilities has led to a larger supply of black mass in global markets over recent months, creating an oversupply, particularly for lower-grade material with higher impurities, according to market sources.

At the same time, black mass purchases has been largely weak amid soft battery raw materials prices and thin margins for black mass refiners.

As a result, buyers across Asia and Europe have generally become more selective about the black mass they procure and are looking for material with lower impurities. Material with higher aluminium and copper content are not desired by hydrometallurgical consumers because they can interfere with the recycling process and some units struggle to remove the impurities themselves during the process.

Therefore, payables for nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) and lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) black mass material with more than 2% copper and aluminium content are often seeing payables quoted at steep discounts in the market and are therefore often appearing as outliers in Fastmarkets’ pricing sessions, when they do appear.

Fastmarkets is also seeing limited volumes of nickel cobalt aluminium (NCA) black mass in the CIF Asia market currently, with the majority of material heard being mixed into NCM black mass.

As a result, Fastmarkets proposes to change the maximum aluminium metal content permitted in the methodology for all of its CIF South Korea, CIF Southeast Asia and EXW Europe black mass payable indicators to 2% from the current 6%. The maximum limit for copper content across Fastmarkets’ black mass payables indicators is already set at 2%.

Fastmarkets is also consulting with the market to nail down prevailing levels of moisture and fluorine, among other impurities, present in the spot market.

The proposed change will affect the methodology specifications of the following prices:

  • MB-BMS-0001 Black mass, NCM/NCA, payable indicator, nickel, cif South Korea, % payable LME Nickel cash official price
  • MB-BMS-0002 Black mass, NCM/NCA, payable indicator, cobalt, cif South Korea, % payable Fastmarkets’ standard-grade cobalt price (low-end)
  • MB-BMS-0003 Black mass, NCM/NCA, payable indicator, lithium, cif South Korea, % payable Fastmarkets’ lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot prices cif China, Japan & Korea
  • MB-BMS-0004 Black mass, NCM/NCA, payable indicator, nickel, domestic, exw Europe, % payable LME Nickel cash official price
  • MB-BMS-0005 Black mass, NCM/NCA, payable indicator, cobalt, domestic, exw Europe, % payable Fastmarkets’ standard-grade cobalt price (low-end)
  • MB-BMS-0006 Black mass, LCO, payable indicator, cobalt, domestic, exw Europe, % payable Fastmarkets’ standard-grade cobalt price (low-end)  
  • MB-BMS-0007 Black mass, NCM/NCA, payable indicator, nickel, cif Southeast Asia, % payable LME Nickel cash official price
  • MB-BMS-0008 Black mass, NCM/NCA, payable indicator, cobalt, cif Southeast Asia, % payable Fastmarkets’ standard-grade cobalt price (low-end)
  • MB-BMS-0009 Black mass, NCM/NCA, payable indicator, lithium, cif Southeast Asia, % payable Fastmarkets’ lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot prices cif China, Japan & Korea
  • MB-BMS-0010 Black mass, LCO, payable indicator, cobalt, cif South Korea, % payable Fastmarkets’ standard-grade cobalt price (low-end)
  • MB-BMS-0011 Black mass, LCO, payable indicator, lithium, cif South Korea, % payable Fastmarkets’ lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot prices cif China, Japan & Korea

These eleven payable indicators have impurities of max 6% aluminium and max 2% copper contents written into their methodology.

In this change, Fastmarkets proposes to amend the methodologies of all eleven methodologies to max 2% aluminium and max 2% copper contents.

The consultation period for this proposed amendment starts from Thursday March 21 and will end on Thursday April 18. The amendment will then take place, subject to market feedback, on Wednesday April 24.

To provide feedback on these prices, or if you would like to provide price information by becoming a data submitter to these assessments, please contact Lee Allen by email at: pricing@fastmarkets.com. Please add the subject heading: “FAO: Lee Allen re: Asia black mass payable indicators.”

Please indicate if comments are confidential. Fastmarkets will consider all comments received and will make comments not marked as confidential available upon request.

To see all Fastmarkets pricing methodology and specification documents, go to https://www.fastmarkets.com/about-us/methodology

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