SHANGHAI, Jun 8 (SMM) – Many pillar industries in India are facing severe shock. The COVID-19 outbreak has led to a precipitous decline in factory operating rates, with operating rates of pharmaceutical intermediate and active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) companies only at around 30%. India is also known as the "World's Pharmaceutical Factory" and produces nearly 20% of the world's generic drugs. Its API is an important link in the pharmaceutical industry chain that is closely connected with upstream and downstream. Pharmaceutical companies in India have basically shut down due to large-scale lockdowns, and the supply chain of India's drug exports is currently collapsing.
Lithium metal export orders affected
Metal lithium can be divided into industrial grade and battery grade in application. Industrial-grade lithium metal is used in the pharmaceutical industry, while battery-grade lithium metal is used in the cathode of disposable lithium batteries. The mainstream downstream application of lithium metal is the pharmaceutical intermediate industry. The Covid outbreak India led to decline in Chinese export orders of lithium metal, but the impact may be relatively lagging. However, the impact on mainstream lithium metal importing countries, such as the United States, Japan and France (which are also affected by COVID-19) was relatively small.
China is the largest metal lithium smelting country. Major metal lithium manufacturers in China are concentrated in Jiangxi, Sichuan, and Qinghai. Chinese export of lithium metal stood at 506 mt in 2020, and 216 mt from January to April 2021, a year-on-year increase of 16.6%. Export is expected to decrease slightly in May and June.
Exports of 3C lithium battery products fell, softening demand for raw materials
As one of the largest consumers of smart phones, India imports about 77% of smart phones from China. The current Covid situation in India will greatly affect China's export volume of 3C products, which will send ripple effects to demand for batteries and lithium carbonate. SMM estimates that LCO output will fall 5% quarter on quarter in Q2 as a result of the off-season for 3C sector and Covid outbreaks. Major LCO producers reduced output and raw material purchase.