#China May Find It Hard to Cool #Lithium’s Rally This Time Around
Scorching gains for lithium, a raw material vital for powering electric vehicles, threaten to push costs even higher for Chinese battery makers, and the government is finding itself powerless to do anything about it.
Even after a meeting last week where Chinese authorities pleaded with major producers to stabilize prices, lithium carbonate surged to a fresh record, rising to 500,500 yuan ($70,716) a ton. In yuan terms, that exceeds the level prevailing when Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk called prices “insane” earlier this year.
“In the short term, I don’t think the meeting will help China cool the rally,” said Peng Xu, analyst at BloombergNEF. Prices for seaborne spodumene — a partly processed form of lithium — are increasing amid a supply-demand mismatch and that’s squeezing the margins of Chinese lithium refiners, Xu said, adding there’s still room for further gains from current price levels.