SHANGHAI, Jun 13 (SMM) – China's lithium metal prices continued their downtrend that began at the start of the year, as lithium salt prices failed to pick up and as the continued shutdown of pharmaceutical intermediate producers in Jiangsu lowered demand.
SMM assessments showed that prices of lithium metal stood at 710,000-740,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday June 13, compared to an average of 805,000 yuan/mt seen at the start of the year. Some lithium metal trades were even heard below 700,000 yuan/mt.
Prices of lithium chloride, raw materials for lithium metal production, have dropped close to 20% this year. Prices of lithium hydroxide were on the decline since the end of 2018, while prices of lithium carbonate held stable. Weakness in lithium salts pressured lithium metal.
Demand for industrial-grade lithium dropped after producers of pharmaceutical intermediates in Jiangsu were ordered to close for rectifications from April after an explosive accident occurred at a chemical plant in Xiangshui of Jiangsu in late March.
With weaker demand, lithium metal producers had to lower their quotes to secure orders.
Lithium prices are expected to extend their declines, in view of the downtick in prices of lithium salts and without a recovery in sight across pharmaceutical intermediates producers in Jiangsu.
SMM expects production of lithium metal to drop some 6% to 3,000 mt in 2019.