- Lithium carbonate continues to trade at premium to hydroxide in China
- Spot market for spodumene remains tepid
Platts assessed battery-grade lithium carbonate at Yuan 125,000/mt on a DDP China basis Nov. 24, down Yuan 6,000/mt on the day and 15,000/mt on the week.
Offers from traders have been falling rapidly in the spot market, with lowest offers heard in the Yuan 120,000/mt plus range. Conversely, offers from converters were still holding in the Yuan 130,000/mt plus range in the week to Nov. 24.
“Although offers are low now, there aren’t many trades,” said a Chinese trader.
Potential buyers are waiting for prices to bottom out before procuring, sources shared.
“Our plant will only buy on a need-to basis, we won’t stock up,” a Chinese consumer said.
Platts assessed battery-grade lithium hydroxide at Yuan 121,000/mt DDP China basis on Nov. 24, down Yuan 5,000/mt on the day and Yuan 14,000/mt on the week. Hydroxide continued to trade at a discount to carbonate prices in the domestic market due to weaker nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) battery demand in China.
“There’s not much domestic demand for hydroxide and even for export market, a lot of materials are under term contract basis,” another trader said.
As of Nov. 24, lithium carbonate was trading at a Yuan 4,000/mt premium over hydroxide in the domestic market.
The prevailing bearish sentiment caused prices to fall drastically in the domestic market. Prices of lithium carbonate had fallen Yuan 35,000/mt, or 21.9%, and hydroxide by Yuan 29,000/mt, or 19.3%, since the start of November.
Upstream, Platts assessed spodumene concentrate with 6% lithium oxide content at $1,400/mt FOB Australia Nov. 24, down $200/mt on the week.
A secondhand trade information reported to Platts concluded at $1,500/mt CIF China basis for 2,000-3,000 mt. A miner shared that this would be a “reasonable” level basis formula pricing.
“On a fixed price basis [no formula], the price would have to be $1,200/mt SC 6.0,” the miner shared for CIF basis.
Indications gathered from potential buyers and sellers were predominantly below $1,500/mt.
Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.