- Lanke’s May 29 sale gives slight boost to carbonate prices
- Mixed views on near-term prices despite demand recovery
Chinese lithium prices saw a slight boost in the week to June 1 on higher offers and expectations of improved downstream demand in June from May.
Platts assessed battery-grade lithium carbonate at Yuan 310,000/mt DDP China June 1, up Yuan 10,000/mt from May 26.
Several market sources talked about seeing a stable demand recovery, particularly from LFP battery makers, which helped support lithium carbonate prices.
“We are seeing more inquiries this week, and there’re no cheap materials available anymore,” said a China-based trader.
“It seems like some consumers may have finished destocking through H1 2023 and are starting to restock now,” said a China-based consumer.
Spot offers were further limited with a few refiners still focused on fulfilling term contract obligations, though some sources expected that refiners could still be sitting on inventories.
News of a 3,000 mt lithium carbonate sale May 29 by Chinese salt lake Lanke at Yuan 300,000/mt also encouraged sellers to lift spot offers.
Consequently, trades for battery-grade lithium carbonate were heard done in a range of Yuan 300,000-320,000/mt in the week to June 1, which most sources deemed to be a fair level.
While consumers concurred that there was a pick-up in demand, some said current market fundamentals would not be able to sustain a further price increase and expected prices to stabilize around the Yuan 300,000/mt mark in the near term.
“Demand from the energy storage sector will likely be a key focus for the market moving forward,” a China-based producer added.
Lithium hydroxide prices also rose slightly although recovery in the high-nickel NMC sector was deemed slower than LFP.
Platts assessed battery-grade lithium hydroxide at Yuan 299,000/mt DDP China June 1, up Yuan 4,000/mt from May 26.
Upstream, sources talked about offers heard for spodumene concentrate at $4,000/mt and above, largely unchanged from the previous week, while demand remained tepid.
Platts assessed spodumene concentrate with 6% lithium oxide content (SC6) at $3,500/mt FOB Australia June 1, unchanged from May 26.
Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.