Lithium prices are soaring in China on the back of heavy demand for lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, a new report by battery supply chain research and price reporting agency Benchmark Mineral Intelligence shows.
Benchmark’s battery grade lithium carbonate midpoint price (EXW China, ≥99.0% Li2CO3) in January surged by over 40% compared to the same month last year to 61,000 yuan per tonne (~$9,450 a tonne), the highest level since June 2019. Price came close to $25,000 a tonne at the start of 2018 but has been in steady decline since then.
Benchmark lithium analyst George Miller said the “lithium ion battery related policy incentives in China are geared towards subsidising shorter-range vehicles, public transport fleet electrification, 5G power stations, all of which encourage LFP consumption”:
“It’s back to the future for lithium in China.
“Demand for durable, improved, and low cost LFP cathode material has become rejuvenated in China – a very similar story to what we saw in lithium’s last price run of 2016 but with a much improved product for the 2020s.
“Although this surging price trend has largely been confined to lithium carbonate within China, this has had a knock-on effect elsewhere, drawing up lithium carbonate prices out of South America by 10%, and 6% for spodumene feedstock in Australia.”