The overall supply-demand pattern in China's lithium carbonate market has not changed much, and remains oversupplied, industry sources said.
Lithium carbonate prices in China have rebounded in the past month after a rare prolonged decline earlier in the year. However, the key raw material for power batteries is still seen as oversupplied.
The overall supply and demand pattern in China's lithium carbonate market hasn't changed much and remains oversupplied, according to a report today in the local media Securities Times, citing a source at data provider Shanghai Metals Market.
Upstream lithium producers' output has declined in recent months, but imports of the raw material have increased and overall supply has not decreased, the source said.
Downstream demand has only increased slightly, leaving the overall supply pattern unchanged, the source said.
On May 23, a 32-ton lithium carbonate auction from a supplier in northwest China's Qinghai province saw only one bidder, resulting in a sale at a starting price of RMB 295,000 yuan ($41,800) per ton, according to the report.
As a comparison, Lake Lithium's May 11 auction of 600 tons of lithium carbonate saw multiple bids and a final price significantly higher than the average lithium carbonate price that day, the report said.
On November 23, 2022, the price of battery-grade lithium carbonate in China rose to RMB 590,000 per ton, up about 14 times from RMB 41,000 per ton in June 2020.
However, factors including weak demand for electric vehicles have caused lithium carbonate prices to decline all the way after heading into 2023.
Lithium carbonate prices did not see a single day of gains in China this year until April 21, falling about 65 percent since the beginning of the year.
After that, lithium carbonate prices rebounded quickly, with battery-grade lithium carbonate returning to RMB 300,000 on May 18.
Since the rebound began late last month, the price of battery-grade lithium carbonate has risen 66.67 percent in China and industrial-grade lithium carbonate has risen 111.11 percent.
For this round of rise in battery-grade lithium carbonate prices, industry sources agree that it is due to factors including stockpiling by manufacturers and speculation by traders, according to the report in Securities Times.
Meanwhile, some downstream producers are in a position to restock their inventories, and their demand for inventory replenishment has also helped the price rise, the report said.
($1 = RMB 7.0566)