China Lithium Prices Near Record as Power Cuts Squeeze Market – by Annie Lee (Bloomberg News – August 23, 2022)

(Bloomberg) — Prices of lithium in China are close to a record high as a power crisis in the nation’s major hub for the vital electric-vehicle battery ingredient threatens an already-tight market.

Sichuan, home to more than a fifth of China’s lithium production, extended industrial power cuts this week amid the most intense heat wave in more than a half century. The supply disruptions in the province are set to add fuel to the battery metal’s stunning rally in the past year, with lithium carbonate prices on Monday reaching the highest level since April at 484,500 yuan ($70,610) a ton.

“We are estimating the lithium price momentum will last for a while, and the spot price for lithium carbonate will climb to 500,000 yuan per ton shortly,” said Susan Zou, an analyst at Rystad Energy. “Automakers and the battery manufacturers have to deal with this high cost.”

Meanwhile, Leah Chen, an analyst at S&P Global Commodity Insights, said the power cuts could tip the market into a bigger imbalance.

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