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Spot prices in the domestic Chinese market for lithium have softened this week due to lower consumption, while prices in the rest of the world have gone up, driven by bullish market sentiment.
Spot prices for lithium fell this week in China because of lower consumption, with most consumers in no hurry to buy material and holding back from further purchasing while prices soften.
“The battery-grade lithium carbonate spot market has been illiquid, and it has been hard to conclude deals at prices higher than 150,000 yuan [$23,896] per tonne this week,” a Chinese lithium carbonate producer told Industrial Minerals.
“Consumers are monitoring the market and are unwilling to place orders, expecting that prices will keep moving downward,” he added.
Lower demand from battery consumers pushed down the market price of battery-grade lithium compounds, compelling producers to lower their prices to secure sales.
The spot price for battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) decreased to 146,000-150,000 yuan ($23,208-23,844)* per tonne on Thursday March 29, according to Industrial Minerals’ market assessment. This was down from 150,000-155,000 yuan per tonne in the previous week.
The price of battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) remained stable week-on-week at 148,000-153,000 yuan per tonne.
Prices of technical and industrial grades of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide monohydrate were also unchanged this week amid thin buying activity.
The spot prices for lithium carbonate, technical and industrial grades (min 99% Li2CO3), ex-works domestic China, remained stable at 140,000-145,000 yuan per tonne on March 29, with the the same prices being reported for technical and industrial grades of lithium hydroxide monohydrate (min 56.5% LiOH.H2O).
The seaborne China, Japan and South Korea lithium market saw a small price uptick, supported by reported deals and suppliers’ bullish market sentiment.
“Our prices remain below the current Chinese domestic spot market prices. But in recent weeks the seaborne market outside China has been close to $20 per kg, and at least $1 per kg higher for lithium carbonate battery-grade material,” he added.
Pushed by market sentiment and confirmed deals, the spot price of lithium carbonate, technical and industrial grade, cif China, Japan and South Korea, moved up slightly to $18-20 per kg on March 29 [LINK], from $17.50-19.50 per kg the week before.
Meanwhile, the price of lithium carbonate, battery grade, cif China, Japan and South Korea, remained unchanged week on week at $19-21 per kg [LINK].
The prices of lithium hydroxide monohydrate, technical and industrial, and battery grades, also showed small week-on-week upticks on March 29, to $20-21 per kg from $19-21 per kg and to $20.10-22.00 per kg from $19-22 per kg, respectively.
Europe, North America
The European and North American lithium spot markets have also shown a price increase over the course of the week, due to bullish sentiment among suppliers.
“It would be exceptional to find lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide monohydrate [for a price] as low as $17-18 per kg in the European and North American spot markets, due to the current tightness of material,” a second lithium producer told Industrial Minerals.
“The market wouldn’t sell any of our grades of lithium carbonate for less than $19 per kg or our lithium hydroxide for less than $20 per kg,” a second lithium supplier told Industrial Minerals.
Suppliers’ bullish sentiment has pushed up the European and North American spot prices of lithium carbonate, technical and industrial grades, week-on-week to $17-19 per kg on March 29, from $16.50-18.50 per kg.
Meanwhile, spot prices of lithium carbonate, battery grade, moved up to $18-20 per kg on March 29, from $17.50-19.50 per kg.
There was more spot market activity in lithium hydroxide monohydrate, technical and industrial grades, with prices moving up to $19.00-20.50 per kg on March 29 from $18.80-20.50 per kg previously.
“We have been active in negotiations to lock in more sales of lithium hydroxide monohydrate, technical and industrial grade, over the course of this week, but we wouldn’t sell material for less than $19 per kg. Actually, all our sales are [at prices] closer to $20 per kg,” a third lithium supplier told Industrial Minerals.
In addition, the lithium hydroxide monohydrate battery-grade spot market moved upward slightly week-on-week, to $19.10-21.00 per kg on March 29.
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