SMM, 29 April:
[March Customs data Analysis]
According to customs data, China imported a total of 130000 tons of lithium concentrate in March 2020, down 29.6 percent from the same period last year and 8.5 percent from the previous month. The average import price was US $456 / ton, down 31% from the same period last year, and down 15.8% from the previous month. On the one hand, the decline in price was due to the rise in import weight of 4% grade lithium concentrate in Ganfeng this month, which pulled down the average price. On the other hand, the price of lithium concentrate imported by Tianqi lithium industry this month was adjusted for the year after next; no lithium raw ore was imported in March. Of this total, spodumene concentrate used to produce lithium salt was 130000 tons in kind, down 26.7 percent from the same period last year, an increase of 17.7 percent over the previous year, and the average import price was 453 US dollars / ton, down 31.9 percent from the same period last year, or 7.7 percent from the previous month.
The following figure shows the import grade and average price distribution of lithium concentrate in March (some anomalies have been eliminated).
In March, the largest number of lithium concentrates imported for the production of lithium salt was Yabao Lithium Industry, with a total import of 0.68 LCE10 000 tons of lithium concentrate. The second largest enterprise in terms of import volume was Fuzhou Express, with an average import price of US $440 / ton (CIF);, with an average import price of US $440 / ton (CIF). Considering that the prices of Tianqi, Ganfeng and Yabao are all long contract prices, excluding several import data, the average import price of lithium concentrate used for the production of lithium salt in March is 439.8 US dollars / ton.
At present, the global new crown epidemic has not been effectively controlled, and the trade logistics of various countries has been affected to varying degrees. According to SMM, the current Australian inbound vessels need to be quarantined, or affect the pace of lithium mine shipment in May and June. In addition, the domestic and foreign power battery demand "double weak", the terminal enterprise considers the cash flow pressure to the material inventory, the battery grade lithium carbonate order is still weak, the price is in the slow decline process, the domestic smelter considers to convert the ore inventory to the lithium salt finished product inventory, the demand to the upstream lithium concentrate weakens synchronously, the current lithium concentrate CIF price may close to 420 US dollars / ton.
Taking into account the three factors of limited logistics, weak demand and price pressure, Australian mines were underpowered in the second quarter, or priority was given to inventory to continue to reduce the operating rate. At present, both the mine end and the smelting end are facing cost pressure, and the room for price decline is limited when there is no obvious improvement in demand.
SMM Battery Materials Research team
Hu Yan 021-51666809
Qin Jingjing 021-51666828
Mei Wangqin 021-51666759
Huo Yuan 021-51666898