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Chinese lithium carbonate hits new record on high spodumene prices

Domestic Chinese lithium carbonate prices continued to surge in the aftermath of a record-breaking spodumene spot tender.

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S&P Global Platts assessed battery-grade lithium carbonate at a record Yuan 170,000/mt ($26,372.94/mt) on a delivered, duty-paid China basis on Sept. 16, up on the day from Yuan 160,000/mt, the previous high.

Pilbara Minerals concluded its second auction at a closing price of $2,240/dmt for a 5.5% spodumene concentrate cargo, on an FOB Port Hedland basis, for 8,000 mt loading in November.

Market sources spoke of higher price levels for spot cargoes, with sellers pricing in expectations of higher raw material costs and active procurement.

There is little spot availability left for September delivery for both battery grade and technical grade, and sellers are no longer quoting prices but inviting buyers to indicate their bid levels first, a Chinese trader said.

Traded prices for battery-grade lithium carbonate earlier in the week were around Yuan 160,000/mt but now sellers are not keen on accepting bids of Yuan 165,000/mt, the source added.

Procurement sources are now sourcing for September-delivery cargoes on expectations of even higher prices being quoted for October delivery, a producer said. However, sellers are generally not in a rush to conclude trades as they can simply stockpile excess volumes for October delivery sales, the source added.

Technical-grade lithium carbonate offers for October delivery were heard raised to Yuan 180,000/mt amid a general shortage of spot cargo offers.

Larger producers are likely to be fully tied up with their term contract volumes for October, with spot prices having to far exceed these term contract levels for producers to be willing to release excess spot cargoes, another trader said.