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Chinese lithium carbonate, hydroxide prices hit record high ahead of spodumene tender

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Chinese lithium carbonate, hydroxide prices hit record high ahead of spodumene tender

Highlights

Several lithium carbonate trades conclude Oct. 20 at Yuan 195,000/mt

Bullish domestic sentiment drives international lithium prices up

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.