Lithium wave near peak as Australian exports soar – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – January 15, 2018)

Lithium prices will peak in 2018 as a wave of new supply from Australian mines outstrips short-term demand, according to business intelligence firm Roskill.

Australian miners have been the fastest responders to recent rises in lithium prices amid optimism around demand for lithium-ion batteries, and at least three more Australian mines are expected to start exporting lithium-rich spodumene in 2018.

Roskill managing director Robert Baylis said the flurry of new mines risked swamping a market that was still small despite its growing profile. “The big issue is this wave of spodumene supply from Australia, where is it going to get processed and what is going to happen in terms of competition between producers?” he said.

“There is too much coming too quickly … the mine production of spodumene concentrate is outgrowing demand quite significantly.”

The world’s biggest spodumene mine has operated near Greenbushes in Western Australia since the 1980s, and exports from that mine were joined in early 2017 by Galaxy’s Mt Cattlin mine and the Mt Marion mine owned by Mineral Resources, Neometals and Ganfeng.

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