Limited spot supply and growing demand from rising downstream production levels have driven spodumene prices to an all-time high.
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S&P Global Platts assessed the weekly lithium spodumene concentrate with 6% lithium oxide content (SC6) at $1,280/mt FOB Australia July 30, up $355/mt from July 23, the previous all-time high.
Market sources pointed to a continuous surge in buying interest for any available spot cargo, with lithium carbonate producers expected to ramp up their production in August and September after a lull season in June and July.
Pilbara Minerals concluded a spot tender for 10,000 mt of spodumene concentrate with 5.5% lithium oxide content for mid- to late-August shipment at $1,250/mt on a FOB Port Hedland basis on July 29.
Producers have already taken up any available spodumene in their term contracts so there is high demand for available spot cargoes, a Chinese trader said.
There are still available profit margins for lithium carbonate producers at this price so buying levels are likely to increase, a producer said. In addition, there are forecasts of price levels reaching Yuan 120,000/mt for lithium carbonate in October, compared to price levels of Yuan 90,000/mt now, the source said.
Market participants indicated that the scarcity of spot cargoes would continue to attract high bids for any future tenders or even in the secondary market with active buying resuming for domestic Chinese lithium carbonate.
The domestic Chinese battery grade lithium carbonate index was assessed at Yuan 90,500/mt July 30, up Yuan 500/mt on the day, on a delivered, duty-paid China basis.