China's diversified chemical producer Do-Fluoride New Materials has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with major domestic electric vehicle (EV) and power battery manufacturer BYD to supply lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) over the next four years.
Do-Fluoride will supply no less than 56,050t of LiPF6 to BYD from January 2022 to December 2025. Other details, including purchase prices, were undisclosed.
LiPF6 is a key feedstock to produce electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries. Besides cathode and anode materials, power battery manufacturers have been also beefing up their feedstock supplies for electrolyte production.
BYD signed another purchase agreement with Do-Fluoride in July for no less than 6,460t of LiPF6. It has also secured supplies of 7,870t during 2021-23 from Yan'an Bicon Pharmaceutical's subsidiary Jiangsu Jiujiujiu Technology and 7,100-11,300t during 2021-23 from Jiangsu Xintai Material.
China's largest battery manufacturer CATL in May signed a purchase deal with Ningde Kaixin Battery Material for 15,000t of LiPF6 from May 2021 to June 2022.
Do-Fluoride has developed a technology to produce LiPF6 using industrial-grade lithium carbonate, anhydrous hydrogen fluoride and phosphorus trichloride as feedstocks. It unveiled a plan in July to build a new production facility with 100,000 t/yr of capacity for LiPF6 in Jiaozuo city in central China's Henan province. The project will be developed in three phases and start production by the end of 2025.
Its subsidiary Henan Nonferrous closed a deal with South Korean battery electrolyte manufacturer Enchem on 11 November for no less than 1bn yuan ($156mn) worth of supplies during 2022-24, with the purchase volumes undisclosed.
Prices for LiPF6 have surged to Yn600,000/t this month from Yn95,000/t a year earlier, driven by buoyant demand from the EV power battery sector, according to market participants.
China's total output of power batteries rose to 159.8GWh during January-October, up by 250pc on the year, while installed volumes increased by 168.1pc to 107.5GWh over the same period, according to data from the China Automotive Manufacturers Association (CAAM).
Argus last assessed prices for 99.5pc grade lithium carbonate stable at Yn195,000-203,000/t ex-works yesterday, the highest level since this assessment was launched in 2016. This was thanks to robust demand from the lithium cathode active material manufacturing sector, particularly lithium iron phosphate, driven by continued growth in EV sales. Import prices stood at $25-25.50/kg cif China amid a temporary balance between supply and demand.