China’s lithium market set for long-term uptrend, says Ganfeng Lithium

By Thomson Reuters Mar 9, 2024 | 2:07 AM

By Siyi Liu and Colleen Howe

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s lithium industry would benefit from a stabilisation of prices of the battery metal, which is set for a long-term uptrend, said the chairman of Ganfeng Lithium, a major Chinese supplier of the battery metal.

Lithium demand from producers of power batteries, energy storage and others will keep growing amid “an irreversible trend” of global energy transition, Ganfeng Lithium Chairman Li Liangbin told Reuters on Friday.

Some fluctuations are inevitable during the uptrend, he wrote in response to Reuters questions.

China’s lithium prices have plunged over the past year on surging supplies and slowing demand. Spot lithium carbonate prices in the world’s top electric vehicle market are hovering around 100,000 yuan ($14,000) per ton, about one-sixth their November 2022 peak.

The fall has hit miners’ profits, threatening to curb global output.

“If lithium prices can stabilise between 80,000 and 150,000 yuan, leaving upstream and downstream (companies) along the industry chain certain profit, it might be the best development environment for the whole industry,” said Li, who is a delegate of the National People’s Congress at the annual meeting of parliament in Beijing.

China and Chinese companies have taken many measures to stabilise prices, Li said, including the launch of a lithium carbonate futures trading platform and companies making purchases via long-term contract to ensure steady supply and prices.

Geopolitics brings certain entry barriers and risks of investment failure for companies, wrote Li, whose company has massive investments in overseas resources, including Australia and Argentina. It exports to Europe, Japan and South Korea.

Gangfeng’s subsidiary in Mexico had to indefinitely postpone its target to start mining after the local government cancelled nine of its concessions, Reuters reported in November.

On the other hand, geopolitics will aid more international cooperation such as Chinese companies partnering with locals to set up production, Li said.

($1 = 7.1855 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Siyi Liu and Colleen Howe in Beijing; Editing by Ryan Woo and William Mallard)