The lithium market has been in turmoil with dramatic rises and falls in prices over the last five years as demand from electric cars take off and global supply growth struggles to keep up.
In its latest market assessment for the two weeks ending August 23, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence tracks an eye-popping 10.7% sequential decline in its lithium index, a sales weighted measure of global prices across grades.
The index, now down by more than half in 2023, was dragged down by falling prices for hydroxide during the 2-week period due to poor demand for high-nickel cathodes in China, the dominant market for the battery material.
Unusually, global prices for hydroxide at $33,508 a tonne fell to below that of carbonate. Lithium prices peaked in January this year with prices for both chemicals trading above $70,000 a tonne. Continued weakness on the spot market in China with ex-works hydroxide now below $30,000, was filtering through to contract negotiations with CIF hydroxide prices in Asia falling 11% according to Benchmark.
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