Battery grade lithium carbonate rose 7.61 percent in China today, and industrial grade lithium carbonate rose 13.25 percent, both the largest single-day gains of this year.

Lithium price rally picking up steam in China-CnEVPost

Lithium, a key raw material for batteries, is seeing accelerating price gains after a rally that began late last month.

The average price of battery grade lithium carbonate in China was RMB 247,500 ($35,680) per ton today, up RMB 17,500 per ton, or 7.61 percent, from yesterday, according to data from Mysteel.

Industrial grade lithium carbonate averaged RMB 235,000 per ton today, up RMB 27,500 per ton, or 13.25 percent from yesterday.

This is the 10th consecutive day of increase in battery grade lithium carbonate prices and the 13th consecutive day of increase in industrial grade lithium carbonate prices, and they are both the largest single-day gains of this year, CnEVPost's monitoring shows.

As of April 21, lithium carbonate prices have not seen a single day of gains in China this year, falling about 65 percent since the start of the year.

In this round of increases that began late last month, the price of battery grade lithium carbonate rose 37.5 percent from RMB 180,000 per ton, while industrial grade lithium carbonate rose 74 percent.

High lithium prices are clearly not good for China's electric vehicle (EV) industry, but the continued decline in the price of the raw material also reflects weak consumer demand at the end of the spectrum.

The price of battery grade lithium carbonate rose to RMB 590,000 per ton in China on November 23, 2022, up about 14 times from RMB 41,000 per ton in June 2020.

The significant upward movement in lithium prices has resulted in EV makers facing higher battery costs, which has led to impaired profits.

However, the fall in lithium carbonate prices since the end of last year has raised many people more concerns about weak downstream EV demand and price wars.

As lithium prices rebound, some analysts are beginning to see possible signs of improvement in the EV industry.

Lithium carbonate prices have stopped falling and stabilized, reflecting gradually improving downstream demand, Guotai Junan analyst Shi Yan's team said in a research note on May 11.

On May 10, CITIC Securities analyst Yuan Jiancong's team said that the previous sharp drop in lithium carbonate prices and price cuts by automakers had fueled a wait-and-see mood among new energy vehicle (NEV) consumers.

In the second quarter, demand for NEVs is expected to pick up as lithium carbonate prices stabilize, the team said.

CICC analyst Zhang Jiaming's team said in an April 20 research note that the accelerating downward trend in lithium carbonate prices was unsustainable, and lithium prices may gradually stabilize and possibly even rebound in the short term as inventories are reduced.

Due to oversupply, some companies choose to cut production, which is a normal phenomenon that may occur in the process of price reduction, the team said.

However, the team believes that the downward trend in lithium prices may not come to a complete end soon, as the global lithium supply is still in surplus.

Market forces will bring a concentration of new capacity coming online and create supply growth that outpaces demand growth, which is the main driver of the easing lithium supply and demand crunch, the team said.

($1 = RMB 6.9468)

Lithium price in China sees 1st rise this year as analysts expect short-term rebound