BY CONTINUING TO USE THIS SITE, YOU ARE AGREEING TO OUR USE OF COOKIES. REVIEW OUR
COOKIE NOTICE

Register with us today

and in less than 60 seconds continue your access to:Latest news headlinesAnalytical topics and featuresCommodities videos, podcast & blogsSample market prices & dataSpecial reportsSubscriber notes & daily commodity email alerts

Already have an account?

Log in to register

Forgot Password

Please Note: Platts Market Center subscribers can only reset passwords via the Platts Market Center

Enter your Email ID below and we will send you an email with your password.


  • Email Address* Please enter email address.

If you are a premium subscriber, we are unable to send you your password for security reasons. Please contact the Client Services team.

If you are a Platts Market Center subscriber, to reset your password go to the Platts Market Center to reset your password.

In this list
Metals

Cobalt price fall likely to continue on plentiful supply, substitution: bank

Commodities | Metals | Steel

How are Chinese steel mills responding to surging iron ore prices?

Jet Fuel

Platts Jet Fuel

Agriculture | Electric Power | Natural Gas (North American) | Oil | Metals | Petrochemicals

North American Digital Commodities Summit, 2nd Annual

Energy | Electric Power | Nuclear | Renewables

El gas y la energía nuclear impulsan la generación de Iberdrola en España en el segundo trimestre

Cobalt price fall likely to continue on plentiful supply, substitution: bank

London — Cobalt, a key component in electric vehicle batteries, could come under further downward pressure as supply grows and consumers seek alternatives, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Monday.

Not registered?

Receive daily email alerts, subscriber notes & personalize your experience.

Register Now

Cobalt has seen the steepest price drop of all commodities over the past six months, the bank said.

Cobalt prices had a rollercoaster year in 2018, starting at $35/lb, peaking at $43.70/lb in April, and ending the year at $26.50/lb. Volatility was the highest since 2008.

"Beyond macro, the headwinds to cobalt have been heavily influenced by rising supply for instance from artisanal miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo [the world's biggest supplier]," the investment bank added.

Glencore, one of the world's largest diversified miners and one of the world's biggest cobalt producers from the DRC, saw a leap in output in 2018 following the restart of its Katanga mine.

"Glencore's cobalt output came in at 42,000 mt, 19% above our forecast, with strong output at both Katanga and Mutanda, beating the upper end of the annual guidance of 37,000-41,000 mt," BMO analyst Colin Hamilton said.

N. American Digital Commodities Summit | March 28-29, 2019

Explore the many questions surrounding big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain’s impact on the energy industry. Meet with experts to examine ongoing initiatives, technological advancements, impending regulations and the focus on cybercrime.

Register now

The Katanga restart underpinned a 54% surge in Glencore's 2018 cobalt production to 42,200 mt. Katanga's production alone was 11,000 mt.

There is "no shortage of potential supply but there could be a lack of mining investment to extract it," Eurasian Resources Group marketing director of copper and cobalt African sales, Giles Smith, said.

He noted that if consumers wanted low cobalt prices, they would have to support the development of supply assets.

A senior Japanese trader agreed that there was not a lack of cobalt. Instead, there was a lack of trust and transparency regarding the supply chain from the DRC, he said, adding that this needed to be addressed.

The DRC has long been dogged by a perceived corrupt image. Artisanal mining in the country can lead to questions of where and how the metal has been mined.

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch note went on to say that: "We note that cobalt substitution continues, also because car producers are wary of relying on cobalt supply from the DRC, which has been politically unstable periodically. Putting it all together, we forecast cobalt demand increases, which suppliers should however be able to feed near-term."

Cobalt was a hot topic at this year's Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town, South Africa, at the start of February, as carmakers and others in the electric vehicle supply chain continually attempt to whittle down the amount of metal used in batteries, sources said.

Technology houses, such as Johnson Matthey, are working on new systems that almost eliminate cobalt from EV batteries. However, many question how long this will take to market and whether it is possible to be 100% cobalt free.

S&P Global Platts assessed EV battery grade cobalt sulfate with 20.5% cobalt content unchanged at $12,800/mt CIF North Asia Thursday February 7.

-- Ben Kilbey, ben.kilbey@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Burgess, newsdesk@spglobal.com