Lithium chemicals prices moved up further Dec. 1, supported by persistent tight supply, which has resulted in surging offer levels.
S&P Global Platts assessed lithium carbonate at $30,100/mt Dec. 1, up $2,300/mt from Nov. 24, and hydroxide up $1,200/mt at $29,800/mt. Both prices are at record highs since the launch of the assessments in 2018.
The prices reflect the spot value of battery-grade material on a CIF North Asia basis, referring to deliveries to the main ports of China, Japan and South Korea. Lithium carbonate, however, is normalized to deliveries at the Shanghai port.
Sellers have been consistently pushing with higher offers due to the tight supply and surging cost of raw materials, such as spodumene concentrate and technical-grade lithium carbonate.
A supplier source, who was offering battery grade lithium hydroxide at $32,300/mt on a CIF North Asia basis, expected the price to increase again next week, “probably by some $300/mt.” The source expected the price to be about $1,000/mt higher by the end of December and to remain supported “at least through the second quarter of 2022.”
Another seller source offered technical-grade lithium carbonate as high as $32,000/mt but did not conclude any transaction at this level so far.
Although some buyers were still resisting higher offers, the surge should be inevitable given the imbalance between supply and demand, sources said. No significant supply additions were expected at least until the second half of 2022, which means the bull run could persist until that point, sources said.
In the short term, demand has been surprising on the upside during this quarter, which could also lead to further price hikes before the year ends.
The Platts $30,100/mt assessment for battery-grade lithium carbonate CIF North Asia was equivalent to Yuan 216,849/mt on a DDP China basis, including 13% value-added tax, based on the Platts import-parity calculation. The DDP China lithium carbonate price was assessed at Yuan 205,500/mt Dec. 1, meaning seaborne prices are now above the Chinese import parity. The dollar was assessed at Yuan 6.3693 at 4:30 pm Singapore time.