Prices for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China jumped this year to a record high of 261,500 yuan ($41,060) per tonne, more than five times higher than last January.
Other commodities used in cathodes have also been rising.
The cobalt price has doubled since last January to $70,208 a tonne, while nickel jumped 15% to $20,045 a tonne.
For the near-term outlook, passenger EV sales are set to more than quadruple to 14 million units in 2025, representing 16% of the global market, according to Bloomberg NEF.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, lithium supply is forecast to jump to 636,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent in 2022, up from an estimated 497,000 in 2021. But demand will jump even higher to 641,000 tonnes, from an estimated 504,000.
“We’re entering a sort of new era in terms of lithium pricing over the next few years because the growth will be so strong”, Wood Mackenzie research director for battery raw materials Gavin Montgomery said in a note.
“Lithium supply will face a number of vulnerabilities, including geographical concentration at both the mining and refining level, as well as the limited presence of established and large mining players,” said Fitch in a recent report.
Cobalt has the potential to extend gains in 2022 after doubling in price in 2021, according to Marubeni Corp., a major Japanese trader.
“Demand is growing at a faster pace than anticipated,” said Yoichiro Suga, Marubeni’s non-ferrous metals and materials trading general manager.
(With files from Bloomberg)