Exports of spodumene concentrate from Australia continued to ramp up in 2018 – with three new mines beginning shipments from ports across Western Australia.
Incremental increases were seen from all three of the country’s established producers; with Greenbushes, Mt Marion and Mt Cattlin recording 12%, 22% and 4% increases in shipments respectively.
Whilst the 23% growth in exports year-on-year was modest in comparison to the dramatic 109% increase seen in 2017, the introduction of further supply from three new operations marks a defining year for an Australian market that, prior to 2017, had only a single operating mine.
The three new 2018 entrants: Pilbara Minerals, Alliance Mineral Assets and Altura Mining, produced up to an additional 13,500 tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) of feedstock material, however, not all of this material was shipped by the end of the year.
While this figure represents only a small proportion of total output, the salience of this new supply will be greater felt in 2019 as new producers ramp up operations and supplies are integrated into the supply chains of Chinese converters.
As Benchmark has previously noted, while these new operations have addressed short term needs of the conversion market, the bulk of the new supply continues to be tied into long term offtake agreements.
How these offtake agreements develop will dictate the supply chain for this material over the coming 12 months.
It is with this backdrop that Benchmark will be hosting its China Lithium Field Trip from 27-31 May 2019 in Sichuan and Jiangxi provinces.
This private field trip will take guests to some of China’s leading lithium production facilities, providing first-hand exclusive access to companies that will dictate the future for spodumene conversion.
Dowload the full agenda here.
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