Lithium: spot prices soar for Lunar New Year
The corresponding valuation of lithium hydroxide monohydrate was 340,000 to 360,000 yuan per ton on the same day, up 50,000 yuan per ton from 290,000 to 310,000 yuan per ton a week earlier.
“Several large lithium producers in China have put their facilities on maintenance ahead of the New Year holidays. They have resumed production this week but have not reached full capacity so far. Spot lithium units have therefore been tightened,” a Chinese lithium producer told Fastmarkets.
A second Chinese lithium production source added that its production would not reach full capacity until late February. Several market participants told Fastmarkets that Chinese lithium producers have no spot units available. Some traders may still have stock, but the volumes would not be significant.
Point Rarity of Lithium Units
“Amid the scarcity of spot lithium units, we received many requests for battery-grade lithium carbonate in the first week after the Chinese New Year, and many customers have urgent needs. But we are exhausted,” said China’s second-largest lithium producer.
According to data from Fastmarkets, demand for battery-grade lithium carbonate was firmer than comparable-grade lithium hydroxide due to the outperformance and optimistic outlook for lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in China, compared to nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM).
As a result, battery-grade lithium hydroxide prices increased more due to high battery-grade lithium carbonate prices than due to firm demand for lithium hydroxide. This explains why lithium carbonate prices in China have continued to hold a significant premium over lithium hydroxide prices, China’s top lithium producer Fastmarkets said.
Market participants generally indicated that supply would remain tight in the near future. Even if brine production in China’s Qinghai province were to recover in the second quarter, lithium supply in China would still be insufficient, given the strong appetite for lithium in China.
Meanwhile, offshore battery-grade lithium spot prices in East Asia have continued to rise over the past week, with activity in China’s domestic market gradually picking up after the new year. revealed Fastmarkets’ assessment.
The tightness of spot units in the market remained a headache for market participants, adding further support to spot prices. Fastmarkets’ valuation of lithium carbonate, grade 99.5%, spot price, cif China, Japan and Korea, was $50 to $54 per kilogram on Feb. 8, up $3 to $4 per kilogram from from 47 to 50 dollars per kilogram on February 7.
An Asia-based trader told Fastmarkets that delayed lithium project expansions in South America and Australia led to tight lithium supplies in maritime East Asia and the global market in the second quarter.
Due to the tightness of the global spot market and the currently high Chinese prices, various market participants have said that the spot prices of sea-borne lithium could rise further soon.
The survey also found lithium prices were up elsewhere as well. The upward trend follows earlier increases seen in Asian markets and weak supply of lithium chemicals.
“Small traders have no stock available and are ready to buy at any price,” a European lithium producer told Fastmarkets.
Fastmarkets priced lithium carbonate 99% technical and industrial grades, spot price, DDP (delivered duty paid) Europe and the United States, between $45 and $50 per kilogram on February 10, up 22% from the last month.
Market participants saw battery-grade carbonate and hydroxide prices at parity again, with hydroxide technical grade at the same level following bullish offers in a tight market.
Battery-grade lithium spot prices reached $50.00 to $52.50 per kilogram on Feb. 10, up 32% from the previous month.