Lithium carbonate prices break through $40/kg barrier

Benchmark’s Lithium Carbonate, Battery Grade, EXW China price has exceeded $40/kg or $40,000/tonne for the first time. 

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s latest Lithium Price Assessment on 31 December 2021 saw the high point of its lithium carbonate price range within China reach $41,925/tonne. 

The mid point of the assessment for this specific grade settled at $39,250/tonne, up by 485.8% on prices a year prior. 

Benchmark’s Global Weighted Average Lithium Carbonate price finished 2021 at $27,327/tonne, showing the aggressive nature of price increases within China versus the rest of the world.

This latest assessment represents a huge 25% m-o-m increase in Chinese carbonate prices driven primarily by strong demand from the electric vehicle battery sector throughout 2021, compounded by seasonal restocking of lithium carbonate inventories ahead of Spring Festival 2022 in China. 

Meanwhile lithium carbonate producer inventories have been depleted on continued high demand and remain at low to non-existent levels. Further upstream spodumene feedstock stockpiles have been reduced from an average of 6 months of material, to only 1-2 months.

The re-emergence of domestic Chinese LFP (lithium iron phosphate) cathode has pushed lithium carbonate prices to all time highs in 2021, a trend that is expected to continue as the market enters 2022. 

The new price levels saw a domestic China premium of lithium carbonate over lithium hydroxide of $6,600/tonne, as ongoing demand for carbonate continues to invert the historical price relationship between the two chemicals.

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