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Lithium carbonate prices continued to rise in China, higher imports slightly eased supply shortage
Dec 2, 2020 14:05CST
Source:SMM
China’s lithium carbonate imports and the average import price both increased in October, customs data showed. 

SHANGHAI, Dec 2 (SMM)--China’s lithium carbonate imports and the average import price both increased in October, customs data showed. 

China imported 6,554 mt of lithium carbonate in October, up 25.61% month on month and 98.99% year on year. For January-to-October, imports totalled 38,547 mt, with a year-on-year increase of 56.8%. Imports from Argentina stood at 1,690 mt, up 16.47% on the month, while that from Chile at 4,855 mt, up 29.9% on a monthly basis.

The import prices averaged $4,416/mt in October, increasing 5.5% from September but decreasing 36.24% from a year ago. The average import price for Argentine lithium carbonate stood at $6,083/mt, while that for lithium carbonate imported from Chile at $3,797/mt. 

58% of imported lithium carbonate were transported to Shanghai (3,830 mt, the average import price at about 24,552 yuan/mt), 22% were shipped to Jiangsu (1,439 mt, the average import price at 43,386 yuan/mt), 12.4% to Jiangxi (814 mt, the import average price at about 43,386 yuan/mt) and 6.7% to Guangdong (441 mt, the average import price at around 41,965 yuan/mt). Compared with home-made materials, seaborne lithium carbonate boasts great price advantages, and this, together with tightened domestic supply, is likely to keep imports at high levels in November.

Imports of lithium carbonate continued to increase in October, slightly easing the tight supply in domestic markets. However, China's lithium carbonate output stood at only 14,000 mt in October, 11.5% lower than a month ago, meaning that 23% of demand was not met. Prices cruised higher amid the short supply.

In November, demand for lithium carbonate from cathode materials plants held largely unchanged on the month in November, while output increase in Sichuan was offset by output decline in Qinghai, an SMM survey showed. Demand-supply structure remained unchanged and prices continued to rise.

As some downstream users have started year-end stockpiling, demand for lithium carbonate is likely to rise further in December. However, lithium carbonate prices in China have increased by 4,000-5,000 yuan/mt since September, posing greater cost pressures for materials plants, which may likely to slow the increase in lithium carbonate prices.

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