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Cobalt nickel Qifei lithium price hit the bottom, lithium battery downstream competing to layout upstream



Qinghai Qarhan Salt Lake photography / copyright battery hundred people's Association in Puritanism

Recently, the announcement of Ningde times' acquisition of lithium minerals from the upstream attracted the attention of the industry.

As the "three giants" of ternary cathode materials, the price fluctuations of cobalt, nickel and lithium always affect the upstream and downstream eyes of lithium batteries. Since July 2019, the prices of nickel and cobalt have soared after a long period of silence, while lithium prices have continued the previous downward trend.

The reporter of securities times · e company recently interviewed a number of leading listed companies in the lithium industry and a number of industry analysts. At present, the price of lithium carbonate in the upstream has approached the bottom of history, and some enterprises in the market even have a cost upside down situation, so the space for lithium price decline is not obvious. In the long run, lithium prices are expected to rise strongly in the future against the backdrop of the continued rebound in lithium battery demand.

Cobalt and nickel prices soar together

In recent years, with the advantages of high capacity, good cycle stability and moderate cost, power lithium batteries using ternary materials as cathode materials have gradually replaced nickel hydrogen batteries, lithium cobalt oxide batteries and lithium iron phosphate batteries, and become the most mainstream batteries in the market.

Taking the ternary battery NCM (the cathode material is composed of three materials of nickel, cobalt and manganese in a certain proportion) as an example, the corresponding mineral resources in the upstream of the industrial chain include lithium, cobalt, manganese and nickel, and the resource price fluctuation is significantly related to the downstream including new energy vehicles and 3C electronic industry.

Recently, cobalt and nickel are undoubtedly stars in the concept of price rise in the capital market.

According to the data of business agency, in mid July, the lowest price of domestic metal cobalt was 21.62 yuan / ton, while the recent domestic metal cobalt price stabilized at about 300000 yuan / ton. In other words, the price of cobalt has increased by nearly 40% in just two months.

"From September 6 to September 10, the average price of cobalt increased by nearly 20000 yuan in the three trading days. As of September 10, the price of cobalt was 291000 yuan / ton, the average price of cobalt was 272000 yuan / ton on September 5, and the price of cobalt increased by 19000 yuan / ton, or 6.99% in the three trading days." Bai Jiaxin, an analyst at business club, said.

Since July, nickel prices have also started a round of crazy rise. From July 8 to 19, the main contract 1911 of Shanghai nickel showed a sharp rise, from the lowest 98200 yuan / ton to the intraday high of 119200 yuan / ton on July 19, breaking a one-year high, with a cumulative increase of 21.4%. Among them, on July 17 and 18, the main contract soared by 5.35% and 5.94% respectively.

During this period, nickel spot price performance was higher than the main contract price. According to the nickel price monitoring of business agency, the spot price of nickel on July 19 was 118466.67 yuan / ton, up 32.35% from the beginning of the year. On July 18, nickel prices soared by 4.48% in a single day, breaking the 110000 mark, with a year-on-year increase of 4.77%.

Since then, "demon nickel" has not stopped its upward pace. On September 3, the main contract of Shanghai nickel reached a record high of 149190 yuan / ton, with a cumulative increase of more than 50% compared with July 8.

The rapid rise of cobalt and nickel prices is closely related to the good news in the overseas market. According to the recent research report and analysis of Shenwan Hongyuan, Glencore, as an industry giant with the largest self-produced cobalt and cobalt trade volume in the world, is expected to regain the "cobalt pricing power" and implement quantity control and price protection. At the same time, since the end of June, most of the mining cobalt enterprises in the DRC have stopped production, so the supply forecast for 2019-2020 has been lowered, and the supply and demand of cobalt is expected to encounter a short-term shortage in the future.

Nickel ore is mainly supplied from the Philippines and Indonesia. In July, affected by the Indonesian earthquake and the resumption of the export ban in Indonesia, as well as the resumption of the review of 17 mines in the Philippines, plus the shutdown of a nickel ore plant under vale in the early stage, nickel supply concerns were raised. Since then, in early September, it was reported that the spokesman of the Ministry of energy, mining and resources of Indonesia said that nickel ore exports would be suspended at the end of December this year, and new regulations on ore export restrictions had been signed.

In addition, it should be noted that, in addition to the stimulation of overseas news, the prices of cobalt and nickel had fallen to a phased bottom due to factors such as market oversupply before this sharp rise.

Since the summer of 2018, cobalt prices have started to fall sharply. In July this year, the price of domestic metal cobalt fell by nearly 70% from the high point in April 2018, approaching a historical low. On July 11, cobalt in domestic electronic disk once fell below 200000 yuan / ton to 195000 yuan / ton, close to the lowest 193500 yuan / ton in history.

Previously, the person in charge of a listed company in the A-share cobalt industry said in an interview with the reporter of the securities times · e company that since 2018, the price of metal cobalt has continued to be weak for more than a year. On the one hand, there is the impact of the decline in subsidies for new energy vehicles, but the main factor is supply. Before, the price of cobalt metal was too high, which made many investors increase production capacity development, and the market supply exceeded demand.

Similarly, Shanghai nickel also started to rise after a shock downturn for as long as four months. Chengxiaoyong, director of Baocheng futures Finance Research Institute, also told reporters earlier that from the market situation in the first half of the year, nickel ore supply is still the main reason for the rise in market prices. At present, China's nickel ore inventory is excessive, which has reached the level to meet the market demand in the first half of next year.

Supply and demand mismatch lithium price pressure

While cobalt and nickel prices soared together, lithium prices have continued the previous downward trend.

"Although the current price of lithium carbonate is not the lowest in history, the price of lithium carbonate is low relative to the cost. The market supply is relatively sufficient, but the demand has not risen, which has caused the lithium price to fall for a long time." Feng Ying, an analyst with Baichuan information lithium carbonate, told the securities times · e company reporter that the current quotation of battery grade lithium carbonate from major manufacturers is about 60000 yuan / ton. The historical low price of this product appeared in 2009, when the quotation was less than 40000 yuan / ton.

From 2009 to 2014, the price of lithium carbonate has been maintained between 36000 yuan and 45000 yuan. Since then, due to the rise of the new energy vehicle industry, the price of lithium carbonate has risen since 2015, and once reached a historical high of about 180000 yuan / ton in 2017. However, from the second half of 2018, lithium carbonate prices began to show a downward trend.

"The price rise of cobalt and nickel has boosted the price of ternary materials, but it has not affected the price of lithium at present. Lithium is not a futures product, and the price is more affected by supply and demand, while the price rise of cobalt and nickel is more stimulated by market news and capital speculation." For the reasons why lithium carbonate prices have continued to fall recently, Feng Ying believes that the main reason is insufficient market demand, and the decline in subsidies has caused greater pressure on the end market. While the demand is weakening, the market supply is also increasing. "When the price was high in the previous two years, a large number of market capacity poured in, and a new batch of devices began to increase in volume in 2018, so the supply has also changed greatly since 2018, resulting in loose supply of the overall market supply, and the contradiction between supply and demand caused price decline." She said.

Qu Lin, an analyst at business news agency, also said that recently, the price of lithium carbonate in China is still in a downward trend, with the market price of industrial grade at about 55000 yuan / ton and battery grade at about 62000 yuan / ton. A large increase in production capacity in the early stage has led to an imbalance between supply and demand, and the downstream demand has also been relatively weakened, resulting in slow market shipments. In addition, the reduction of subsidies has also had a certain impact on the market, resulting in a continuous decline in prices.

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