Lithium prices spiral down

…As Zim miner says price is quarter of last year

Business Review Writer

Prices of lithium have dropped drastically in China, and local producers are reeling after heavy investments in Zimbabwe.

Recently, during the launch of the Chinese New Energy Association of Zimbabwe – a grouping of miners in renewable energy minerals such as lithium, copper, manganese, nickel, among others – a top manager at one of the companies told this publication that prices had dropped significantly from last year.

“This year’s prices are just a quarter of last year,” the general manager of a large investor said.

The company started exporting in the first quarter, after investing over US$700 million.

A report on Bloomberg published today confirm that prices of lithium carbonate in China fell to 166,500 yuan (US$22,814) a tonne last Wednesday, ahead of the Golden Week holidays, a loss of almost half from the recent peak in early June.

The report said the decline has been precipitous.

“Less than a year ago, the metal reached a record of 598,000 yuan a tonne,” it said.

To slump has hammered lithium producers too, with the Sprott Lithium Miners ETF tumbling to the weakest since its inception in February, and Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF plunging to the lowest since 2020.

Demand for lithium typically picks up in the fourth quarter in China – the world’s largest EV market – because of strong battery cell production and installation, and manufacturers usually replenish their feedstock ahead of that.

Zimbabwe is said to be home to a fifth of the global lithium reserves and the country is top in Africa.

The country does not have refining capacity to achieve battery-grade lithium, and most producers export concentrates of spodumene and petalite.

Government, however, is seeking to force miners to value-add

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