Sailing, Ports & Shipping
Lithium concentrate exports from the West Australian (WA) port of Port Hedland decreased to 27,608t in December from 28,494t in November.
Two shipments were made to Chinese offtake partners from lithium concentrate producers in the Pilgangoora area of WA, according to monthly data from the Pilbara Ports Authority.
Lithium concentrate exports slowed markedly in 2019 as a result of producers cutting back on production and a bottleneck in Chinese conversion of concentrate into lithium carbonate and hydroxide. Prices have slumped to $500-550/t compared with $900-$1,000/t in early 2018.
Australian lithium producers such as Pilbara Minerals and Mineral Resources have either reduced production or put it on hold to ride out the lithium price fall, which has also sent at least one Australian and one Canadian lithium producer into administration.
Port Hedland also exported 112,560t of manganese ore in a single shipment to China in December, compared with 112,650t in a single shipment to China in November. Exports of copper concentrates increased to 42,780t to China, India and the Philippines from 22,341t in November.
By Angus Macmillan