Chinese lithium carbonate prices rocket up by 98% in 2021

Lithium carbonate prices in China have almost doubled so far this year, according to latest data from battery supply chain research and price reporting agency Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

In its inaugural mid-month price assessment, Benchmark said average pricing for EXW China technical grade lithium carbonate was up 97.5% to US$11,700 per tonne in 2021, with continuing supply shortfalls seeing converters ‘scramble for units’.

Benchmark noted that battery-grade material has gained a further 12.2% in the past two weeks to be up 88.4% this year, with the average pricing at $12,635 per tonne ‘on market shortage as many producers sell out of product inventory’.

Lithium hydroxide prices have also recorded a 9.1% increase in the past two weeks to $9,625 per tonne. Earlier this month, Benchmark reported that Chinese carbonate prices hold a premium over hydroxide for the first time since April 2018.

This was due to a build-up of hydroxide capacity in China, but carbonate’s premium is only forecast to continue in the short term, with future demand growth for hydroxide expected to quickly catch up with supply, according to commodity research firm Roskill.

Benchmark added that Chinese lithium chemicals producers, including Ganfeng Lithium, Tianyi Lithium, Youngy and Jiangte, had reached consensus in recent company announcements that the lithium chemical market was to encounter further tightness in 2021.