The Battery Metal Really Worrying China Is Lithium, Not Nickel -by Annie Lee (Bloomberg News – April 2022)

(Bloomberg) — Nickel has captured much of the limelight among battery metals in recent weeks, and understandably so. Wild price swings, including an unprecedented 250% advance over two trading sessions amid a short squeeze, and concerns tied to Russia’s role as a key supplier have added to longstanding worries among automakers about securing enough of the material.

Even so, it’s another metal that’s been causing concern in the world’s largest electric vehicle market. China’s government last month hauled in a whole range of market players for two days of talks focused on halting a breakneck run-up in lithium, the metal that’s vital for almost all rechargeable batteries and critical to the roll-out of emissions-free cars and clean energy.

Lithium carbonate in China jumped about 472% from a low last June to a record high on March 15, according to pricing provider Asian Metal Inc. An index of global lithium prices compiled by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence has surged almost 490% in the past year.

At the March seminar, which included industry groups, raw materials suppliers and battery manufacturers, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, demanded “a rational return” to more typical lithium prices.

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