The resumption of operations in South African ports earlier this week did not cut support from cobalt hydroxide prices. Most of the world’s cobalt supply is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is usually shipped from South Africa.
S&P Global Platts assessed 30% Co cobalt hydroxide at $21.50/lb CIF China July 22, unchanged day on day but up 20 cents from July 15 for spot cargoes aligned to Platts methodology, loading15-60 days out.
Some market participants pegged the tradable value as high as $21.80-$22/lb. “Cobalt metal price is going up, which is pushing the hydroxide prices, [despite] the South African situation getting better,” a trader source said.
Another seller received a bid at $21.6/lb and offered at $22/lb, but “nothing was booked so far,” he said.
“Some producers have delayed shipments for two weeks, but supply tightness depends -- for raw feedstock and hydroxide, some have sufficient stockpiles and won't feel the squeeze for now,” said a producer source.
Although he did not notice any significant increase in demand, “producers are raising their offers as there will probably be buyers who need urgent cargoes,” he added.
At least four other market participants did not see significant changes in market fundamentals this week, and repeatedly reported indicative levels hovering $21-$21.5/lb. “Port operations are resuming; the market's relatively quiet, though,” another source said.
Cobalt metal pauses
Despite the persistence of some cautiousness about supply, cobalt metal prices remained unchanged this week.
Platts 99.8% in-warehouse Rotterdam assessment was flat at $24.50-$25/lb, with some sources noticing the $25/lb mark as a resistance level at the moment.
“It’s still either side of $25/lb,” said a trader source.
There is “definitely some resistance from buyers, but $24.50/lb is tradable [Thursday],” another trader source said.