current position:Home>Battery factories are struggling on the edge of profitability, but lithium mining companies have become 'money printing machines'

Battery factories are struggling on the edge of profitability, but lithium mining companies have become 'money printing machines'

2022-07-30 11:48:22NetEase Auto Industry

Since this year, sales of new energy vehicles have doubled, driving up the price of raw materials for power batteries, which has made the profits of lithium mining companies soar.

Recently, a number of lithium mining companies have released half-year performance forecasts.Among them, Tianqi Lithium (002466.SZ) is expected to have a net profit of 9.6 billion yuan to 11.6 billion yuan in the first half of the year, an increase of 110.9 times to 134.2 times year-on-year.Tibet Mining (000762.SZ) is expected to have a net profit of 400 million to 530 million yuan, a year-on-year increase of 8.4 to 11.5 times.Ganfeng Lithium (002460.SZ) is expected to have a net profit of 7.2 billion to 9 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 4.1 to 5.4 times, while Shengxin Lithium Energy (002240.SZ) is expected to increase its net profit by more than 9 times year-on-year.

The reason for the sharp increase in the net profit of lithium mining companies is the increase in demand in the power battery industry and the increase in sales prices.According to SMM data, in the first half of this year, China's lithium salt production increased significantly. In the first half of the year, the output of lithium carbonate totaled 157,000 tons, up 45% year-on-year, and the output of lithium hydroxide totaled 107,000 tons, up 32% year-on-year.From the price point of view, the price of upstream raw materials ushered in a high rise in the first half of the year. Taking battery-grade lithium carbonate as an example, the price rose from 278,000 yuan/ton at the beginning of this year to an average price of 469,000 yuan/ton on June 30, and the price increased in the first half of the year.Up to 68.7%, the highest price during the period has risen to 503,000 yuan / ton.The price of battery raw materials has started to rise since 2021. Compared with the beginning of 2021, the current price of lithium carbonate has increased by nearly 10 times.

While lithium mining companies are making huge profits, the operating pressure of battery factories has increased.Wu Kai, chief scientist of CATL, said at the special forum on "Global Advanced Power Battery Prospective Technology Breakthroughs" that although CATL has not lost money this year, it is struggling on the edge of profitability, which is very painful."Where the profits go, you can imagine." Wu Kai said.

From a technical point of view, the energy density of batteries has been increasing in recent years, and the cost of batteries has shown a downward trend with the advancement of technology."Compared with ten years ago, the energy density of the battery has more than doubled, and the cost has dropped by 80%." said Wang Zhengqiang, vice president of Yibin Tianyuan Wang Group.Wang Yu, chairman of Funeng Technology, also believes that the energy density and cost of batteries are not absolute opposites.With the continuous innovation and progress of battery material science and the improvement of safety redundancy brought by semi-solid and solid-state battery technology, more alternative applications of high-activity and low-cost materials are possible, and the manufacturing cost per unit of energy will continue to decrease.The research of Funeng Technology shows that in the long run, the performance and cost of power batteries will show a "scissors difference" effect.%~8%.

Currently, the rise in battery costs is mainly due to the irrational increase in upstream raw material prices.The industry believes that in addition to the substantial increase in the demand for power batteries and the mismatch between supply and demand in the industry, some companies lock in production capacity out of panic, and there is speculation in the middle, which has boosted the price of battery raw materials.

Since this year, a number of power battery companies have begun to accelerate their deployment in the upstream field, and the phenomenon of rushing for mines has continued to be staged. In the first half of the year, the power battery company Zhongxinhang and Tianqi Lithium Industry reached a strategic cooperation agreement and a lithium carbonate supply framework agreement.Power battery company Honeycomb Energy, Yiwei Lithium Energy and upstream lithium mining company Chuanneng Power signed a cooperation agreement in Chengdu, announcing that they would form a joint venture company to jointly invest in the construction of a 30,000-ton/year lithium salt project in Deyang-Aba Eco-Economic Industrial Park, in order to speed up the layout of the lithium battery industry in Sichuan.The leading battery company CATL has built several projects of its own lithium mines.

“After the upstream raw material production capacity is effectively expanded, the price can be stabilized as soon as possible. It is expected that the price of lithium will drop by more than 30% next year, so that the operating pressure of battery factories and new energy factories will be effectively relieved. In addition, price increases are not the norm., From the perspective of the battery material system, the manufacturing process of the battery continues to mature, and under normal circumstances, the cost of the battery will fall by 5% to 10% every year." Nomura China's technology and telecommunications industry analyst Duan Bing told reporters.

“Every field is worried or complaining, including consumers who are also complaining, such as the lack of mention of cars, the rising car prices, the squeeze on the profits of OEMs and battery factories, and everyone is not very good in the industry channel.Good economy, and even the price of battery cells has returned to a few years ago overnight, everyone is complaining, but I am relatively optimistic about the development of the second half of the year." Dai Dali, CTO of Hezhong New Energy Co., Ltd. said.

Huatai Securities recently released a research report showing that in the first half of 2022, affected by the cost of raw materials, the profitability of battery companies will still be temporarily under pressure, but the current price of lithium carbonate hasAfter peaking and falling back, the effect of upstream resource layout of battery companies has emerged, and they are continuing to improve the layout of the scarce resource lithium carbonate.

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