Lithium bosses call for spot price index for battery metal

Two lithium company bosses have called for a spot price index for the battery metal in its concentrate form to boost transparency, trust and investor confidence (reports The West Australian).
4th August 2022

The managing directors of both Liontown Resources and Pilbara Minerals used their presentations on day three of the annual Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie to raise hopes for an agreed index for spodumene in a bid to aid continuous price discovery.

Liontown’s Tony Ottaviano said the a spot market for spodumene would require increased volumes to give it depth, a reliable platform and industry buy-in.

“What I’ve seen in iron ore and LNG (is) once you get industry participation in there, then the index will thrive because then you get the volumes, then you get the accuracy and the transparency and the governance,” he said.

Mr Ottaviano said Liontown had backed the FastMarkets index because it was being supported by the London Metal Exchange.

His comments come as lithium miner Pilbara Minerals revealed it had achieved a near-record price of $US7012 per dry metric tonne for a 5000t cargo of its spodumene, reflecting the ongoing strength of the market for the energy metal.

Pilbara cited strong interest in participation and bidding by a broad range of qualified buyers in the online auction with a total of 67 bids received during the 30-minute bidding window.

Former managing director Ken Brinsden introduced the so-called Battery Material Exchange as a means of price discovery for spodumene.

However it has also been touted as a broader spot price index for the wider industry.

Pilbara’s managing director Dale Henderson said the industry needed a more efficient way of trading battery materials and the company’s BMX auction was the first attempt in enabling that to happen.

“As an industry, the more we can do to increase transparency and enable that efficient buying and selling exchange, that will enable industries to develop more quickly and swiftly because people will trust what’s unfolding,” he said.

“Historically it’s been hard in lithium and other markets if you can’t have visibility on how buying and selling unfolds.

“It creates risk and therefore it creates fear and stymies growth.”

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