Domestic Chinese lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices surged to another historical high Oct. 20, with market sources anticipating further gains in the wake of an upcoming upstream spodumene tender.
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S&P Global Platts assessed battery-grade lithium carbonate at Yuan 195,000/mt and battery-grade lithium hydroxide at Yuan 190,000/mt Oct. 20, both on a delivered, duty-paid China basis.
Lithium carbonate price was up Yuan 5,000/mt from the previous record of Yuan 190,000/mt assessed Oct. 15. Lithium hydroxide price increased Yuan 5,000/mt day on day.
Platts started assessing Chinese battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices Sept. 7, 2018.
Spot transactions for lithium carbonate increased in the market Oct. 20. Unrefined coarse sand industrial-grade lithium carbonate was traded at Yuan 182,000/mt for 800mt in the week to Oct. 20. A trade of industrial-grade lithium carbonate was concluded at Yuan 185,000/mt, for 30mt prompt October delivery, while several trades of battery-grade lithium carbonate were concluded at Yuan 195,000/mt.
"The [spodumene] auction next week is sending some nervous energy in the market," a Chinese lithium dealer said. "People are desperate to secure materials in the market today before prices shoots up again."
A 10,000mt of spodumene tender was scheduled for Oct. 26. It could overtake the previous tender held Sept. 14 for a spot cargo of 8,000mt spodumene concentrate with 5.5% lithium oxide concluded at $2,240/dmt on an FOB Port Hedland basis, equivalent to $2,420/dmt for 6% lithium oxide, market sources said.
However, some market sources said the gains in lithium were "unsustainable", after prices surged to historic highs within a year.
Prices of lithium chemistries were also up in the international market due to the overall bullish domestic sentiment in China.
S&P Global Platts assessed the spot value of battery-grade lithium carbonate up $500/mt at $22,500/mt, and lithium hydroxide up $800/mt at $23,000/mt Oct. 20, both on a CIF North Asia basis.
Platts' $22,500/mt assessment for battery grade lithium carbonate CIF North Asia was equivalent to Yuan 163,105/mt on a DDP China basis, including 13% value-added tax, based on Platts' import-parity calculation, which places Chinese domestic prices above the import parity. The dollar was assessed at Yuan 6.4069 at 4:30 pm Singapore time.
Indicative offers for battery-grade lithium hydroxide for forward November loading and delivery cargoes were pegged at $29,000-$30,000/mt, supporting the bullish market outlook.