- Supply tightness expected to worsen
- Offers raised ahead of active buying
S&P Global Platts assessed battery grade lithium carbonate up Yuan 500/mt on the day at Yuan 89,500/mt July 23, and battery grade lithium hydroxide flat over the same period at Yuan 100,000/mt.
Both assessments are on a delivered, duty-paid China basis.
Sellers raised their offers for both industrial and battery-grade lithium carbonate on expectations of tighter supply, stemming from higher price levels for spodumene as well as strong demand for lithium hydroxide.
Buyers are expected to return to the market soon for August delivery cargoes which will spark off the next round of price hikes, a Chinese trader said. Some producers prefer to focus their production efforts for lithium hydroxide given the supply shortage, which will reduce available lithium carbonate cargoes, the source added.
Upstream spodumene prices have surged significantly and this will translate to higher price levels for lithium carbonate, a producer said.
Several market sources indicated jumps in traded prices of around Yuan 3,000-5,000/mt for industrial grade lithium carbonate over the past two weeks.
Buying activity is still low for battery grade lithium carbonate but the spike in prices for industrial grade will definitely mean higher price levels for battery grade as well, a procurement source said.
Sporadic trades were heard for battery grade lithium carbonate over the past few weeks at around Yuan 86,000-88,000/mt but offer levels are now above Yuan 90,000/mt for August delivery, another trader said.
Thin trading activity was observed for lithium hydroxide amid a slowdown in North Asian buying interest. However, market participants pointed to continued strong demand from domestic Chinese buyers for August delivery cargoes.
Rising prices for the entire lithium product chain will definitely lead to higher lithium hydroxide prices even as liquidity for lithium carbonate is expected to be stronger, a buyer said. The fundamental supply tightness for lithium hydroxide due to much smaller production capacity will support its premium over lithium carbonate.
Several sellers were heard to have raised their offers to Yuan 110,000/mt although buying levels were not expected to breach Yuan 100,000-105,000/mt prices at least until August, market sources said.
Spodumene prices continued to rise on limited availability of spot cargoes with market participants expecting higher prices once lithium carbonate buying interest picks up in August.
A spot tender for a 15,000 mt cargo of spodumene loading in late Q3 was heard to have been concluded at around $1,050/mt on a CIF China basis.
Market sources indicated that aside from limited spot cargoes, the high price was also due to its later shipment when downstream demand was expected to be much higher than the current situation.
Lithium spodumene concentrate with 6% lithium oxide content (SC6) was assessed at $925/mt FOB Australia July 23, up $75/mt from July 16.