Benchmark’s battery grade lithium carbonate midpoint price for mid-March shows the raw material up 88% just since the start of the year to over $12,600 a tonne, the highest level since March 2019.
Benchmark says in its new report some transactions were concluded as high as $13,400 on signs of a market shortage with producers running out of inventory.
The last time domestic Chinese lithium carbonate sold for more than $13,000 was August 2018.
Lithium hydroxide prices in China have also rallied this year, up more than 20%, although a relatively deep discount to carbonate continues to exist.
Hydroxide prices came close to $25,000 a tonne and carbonate peaked at $23,000 at the start of 2018, but entered a steady decline that only bottomed at the end of last year.
Last month, Benchmark lithium analyst George Miller said:
- Demand for durable, improved, and low-cost LFP cathode material has become rejuvenated in China – a very similar story to what we saw in lithium’s last price run of 2016 but with a much improved product for the 2020s
In December, only its 2nd full month of sales, the 55KWh LFP-battery Tesla Model 3 captured 5.9% of the global full electric car market in terms of battery capacity deployed despite not being for sale in the US.
Boosted by deliveries to Europe, it made up 46% of all Model 3 sales in January and an astonishing 32% (in December it was 47%) of the battery capacity in all LFP-equipped cars worldwide.