The Strategist

China may strengthen in lithium market due to Australia's mining problems and price collapse

01/26/2024 - 02:14

While Australian sector players are scrapping earlier production plans, China can use the decline in lithium prices to bolster its position in this market, reports The Financial Times referring to data from the company and estimations from analysts.

CC 3.0 - Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego
CC 3.0 - Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego
Because of an abundance of supply, the price of lithium has dropped by more than 80% in the last year, to $13.2 thousand per ton, the lowest since 2020, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. According to the newspaper, the surplus is the result of China's largest market's demand for electric cars slowing down, from 84% growth in 2022 to 25% in 2023. Lithium is one of the main ingredients in the batteries used in electric vehicles.

This year, the world's supply of lithium will surpass demand by 17%, predicts Goldman Sachs.

According to William Adams, head of commodities analysis at Fastmarkets, "this is a period where too many new (lithium) projects have come on stream in an extremely short period of time," The Financial Times writes.

"China will see lower (lithium) prices as an opportunity to strengthen its position in this market," Adams said. You may recall the sharp increases in lithium prices in 2021–2022, to which China responded swiftly."