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Lithium prices rise on tight supply, strong China demand

Battery production factory. (Image courtesy of Ganfeng Lithium.)

Lithium prices continue on an upward trend amid a shortage of spot units, according to analysis from Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price was 440,000-470,000 yuan ($69,408-74,140) per tonne on Thursday, compared to 400,000-430,000 yuan ($63,191-67,930) per tonne a week earlier.

“Chinese market participants were surprised that China’s lithium prices continued to rise rapidly after the recent Lunar New Year holidays, even though lithium producers in the country have resumed production this week,” Fastmarkets said.

“Even when those outputs are available, overall spot supply will still remain tight,” said the agency.

“Battery-grade lithium carbonate units are so scarce in the spot market that price is not the primary concern for downstream consumers. They are looking everywhere for available units. But there are few sellers who still have any spot supply,” a third Chinese lithium producer source told Fastmarkets.

Global EV sales jumped 83% year-on-year in 2021, insights from Adamas Intelligence show.

According to the market analyst, over 98% of all watt-hours deployed last year went into plug-in electric vehicles alone, both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

Adamas Intelligence’s report also points out that 2021 saw a record 286.2 GWh deployed onto roads in the batteries of new passenger EVs globally, a 113% leap over 2020.