In the morning of May 23, bidding began at a lithium brine lake in Qinghai. The auction was intended to sell a total of 32 tons of lithium carbonate with the starting bid price at RMB 295,000 per ton. Surprisingly, only one party was willing place a bid, and the final transaction was the starting bid price. The same auction also sought to unload 96 tons of lithium phosphate with the starting bid price at RMB 236,000 per ton. However, there was no bidder for the lithium phosphate, and none of the amount was sold.
Based on TrendForce’s data, the market prices of battery-grade lithium carbonate in China ranged from RMB 290,000 to 320,000 per ton on May 23, with the average coming to RMB 305,000 per ton. Quotes for the most part have remained flat. As for the market prices of industrial-grade lithium carbonate in China, they ranged from RMB 280,000 to 300,000 per ton on May 23, with the average coming to RMB 290,000 per ton. Likewise, quotes for industrial-grade lithium carbonate have stayed relatively constant. It should be noted that industrial-grade lithium carbonate is below 99.6% and above 99.2% in purity.
As an essential material in the Li-ion battery industry, prices of lithium carbonate have fluctuated considerable since 2022, dropping from almost RMB 600,000 per ton in November last year to less than RMB 180,000 per ton at the end of this April. Presently, prices have rebounded to the level of RMB 300,000 per ton.
Earlier on May 11, Chinese lithium supplier LAKE Lithium held an auction for 600 tons of industrial-grade lithium carbonate. The auction concluded with transaction prices ranging from RMB 241,000 to 251,000 per ton. These prices were higher than the spot prices of industrial-grade and battery-grade lithium carbonate in China on that day.
Also, on May 11, the market prices of battery-grade lithium carbonate in China ranged from RMB 210,000 to 250,000 per ton, with the average coming to RMB 230,000 per ton. The market prices of industrial-grade lithium carbonate in the country on that same day ranged from RMB 190,000 to 220,000 per ton, with the average coming to RMB 205,000 per ton. Prices were rising rapidly around May.
Looking further back, GETO New Materials brought a lithium mine in Xinjiang at RMB 6.088 billion in February of this year. This price reflected a premium of 400 folds. However, GETO then backed out of this deal on April 23.
Prices of lithium carbonate actually dropped to a nearly six-month low in April. TrendFroce’s data reveal that on April, the market prices of battery-grade lithium carbonate in China ranged from RMB 170,000 to 190,000 per ton, with the average coming to RMB 180,000 per ton. As for industrial-grade lithium carbonate, its market prices ranged from RMB 120,000 to 140,000 per ton, with the average coming to RMB 130,000 per ton.
In general, the volatility in prices of lithium carbonate can, to some extent, influence bidders’ expectations on the demand outlook for lithium resources and the trajectory of the market. When prices rise, bidders may be motivated to participate in auctions, aiming to obtain enough lithium resources at lower prices to meet their production needs. Conversely, when prices fall, bidders are less inclined to participate in auctions.
This article is a translation of a Chinese article posted by Martin at TrendForce. It contains information that is either sourced from other news outlets or accessible in the public domain. Some Chinese names are transcribed into English using Hanyu Pinyin.