The electric vehicle sector continues to pour fuel on a red-hot lithium sector, with Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s latest lithium price assessment flagging huge year-to-date price increases.

Battery grade carbonate pricing is now up 101% in 2021, with prices between $13,325-$13,950/tonne, and averaging $13,650/tonne.

Hydroxide prices are up 85.7%  YTD, and robust demand and limited supply expected to continue to push up them higher.

A year ago, desperate Australian spodumene producers were accepting sub-$US400/t prices for their product. Now “market contacts report expectations that spodumene feedstock prices will rise above $800/tonne (FOB Australia) in late Q3 as converters scramble for material,” Benchmark says.

“Seasonal supply from Qinghai province brine projects continues to ease market tightness as production ramps up during China’s summer months, with highest evaporation rates in June, July and August, alleviating upward pressure on carbonate prices,” Benchmark says.

However, it  anticipates the carbonate market to return to rising prices in H2 2021, “as seasonal production within China subsides against a backdrop of rising global demand.”

Benchmark is also anticipating no imminent pullback in hydroxide prices as “improving downstream demand for high-nickel cathode chemistries, both within China and internationally, continues to drive up prices”.

Pic: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence