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    • Producers prioritizing term contract settlements
    • Active buying seen for technical grade

    Domestic Chinese lithium carbonate prices continued to soar on the week on strong buying interest for October.

    S&P Global Platts assessed battery grade lithium carbonate at Yuan 185,000/mt, and battery-grade lithium hydroxide at Yuan 170,000/mt Sept. 24, both flat from Sep 23, on a delivered, duty-paid China basis.
    Market sources pointed to thinner spot trading activities with refiners preferring to prioritize their term contract negotiations before offering excess spot cargoes in the market.
    Most trades done this week were sold by traders or third party dealers from their existing stockpiles, with refiners preferring to offer cargoes only after their contract volumes are settled, a Chinese trader said.
    Spot liquidity will improve the following week with precursor makers having to make up for additional volumes needed in the spot market, a refiner source said.
    Spot offers by traders and third party dealers continued to be maintained at high price levels in anticipation of a further price hike for October-delivery cargoes.
    Battery grade lithium carbonate spot offers were heard to be at Yuan 200,000/mt with limited negotiating power expected for buyers.
    Spot prices are not at Yuan 200,000/mt levels yet but sellers have strong confidence that prices will reach there in October and will not accept bids below those levels, a precursor maker source said.
    Spot trades were heard to have been concluded this week for Chinese salt lake-produced technical grade lithium carbonate at Yuan 185,000/mt.
    There is greater pressure for spot buyers of technical grade lithium carbonate due to lesser availability, with some producers expected not to have any allocated spot volumes at all, another Chinese trader said. As such, buyers have already started procuring from resellers, the source added.
    Limited liquidity continued to be expected for lithium hydroxide in the absence of spot demand with lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NMC) precursor makers preferring to settle their entire demand on term contracts, market sources said.
    Demand from the NMC battery chain has been largely stable in China and hence there is little need for spot buying activities, a consumer source said. However, term contract prices for lithium hydroxide will continue increasing given the price hike for lithium carbonate, the source added.
    A lack of spot availability for the fourth quarter was expected to support spodumene prices, amid attractive refining margins from rising lithium carbonate prices.
    Any excess spot cargoes will be immediately bought up, and refiners with term contracts have no interest in reselling their contracted volumes, a trader said.
    Spodumene concentrate with 6% lithium oxide content (SC6) was assessed at $2,444/mt FOB Australia Sept. 24, flat from Sep 17.
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