Battery metal prices driven down by slowing Chinese EV demand – by Harry Dempsey (Financial Post/Financial Times (October 18, 2023)

Lithium, cobalt and nickel prices tumble as ‘irrational exuberance’ wears off and surge in supply hits markets

Prices for key battery materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel have sharply fallen this year as electric-vehicle sales in China cool off and a surge in supply hits the market.

Since the start of the year, lithium prices have fallen almost 70 per cent and nickel prices have dropped by 40 per cent, while the cobalt market is in a glut with prices hovering slightly above record lows, according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Ltd., Refinitiv Ltd. and Argus Media Ltd.

Much of the fall is driven by a slowdown in the growth of demand for fully electric cars in China. Sales doubled in the first nine months of 2022 over the same period the previous year, but that rate of growth has slowed to 25 per cent this year.

“It’s the EV market decelerating,” Martin Jackson, head of battery raw materials at CRU International Ltd., a consultancy, said. “On top of that, consumer electronic sales in China declined double digits last year and we’re forecasting another double-digit contraction this year.”

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