- Trades concluded at Yuan 83,000/mt DDP China
- Offer levels heard at Yuan 84,000-85,000/mt DDP China
S&P Global Platts assessed weekly battery-grade 20.50% Co cobalt sulfate at Yuan 83,000/mt ($12,816/mt) DDP China on July 26, flat from the previous assessment on July 23.
Chinese cobalt sulfate prices remained strong on tight supply conditions and higher raw material costs amid a background of largely recovered operations in South African ports.
While operations in South African ports were heard to have largely resumed last week, the previous exacerbation of supply tightness on the back of multiple COVID-19 waves has caused some sources to estimate that a full recovery of operations might take up to two weeks to return to normal.
The improvement of operations in South African ports were also seen to have little impact in diminishing cobalt hydroxide prices; where currently strong cobalt intermediate prices help to prop up Chinese cobalt sulfate premiums as well.
Consistently high prices in intermediate products upstream due to a lack of availability of spot cargoes and a greater precedence placed on long-term contracts also continued to provide firm support to Chinese cobalt sulfate prices.
Several Chinese cobalt sulfate trades were heard concluded at Yuan 83,000/mt DDP China during the week to July 26. Tradable levels were heard at Yuan 82,000-83,000/mt DDP China, while offer levels were heard at Yuan 84,000-85,000/mt on July 26.
In addition to high costs for raw materials, increased cost pressure has been placed on ternary precursors as well. Recent availability of bulk cargoes for ternary precursors remain relatively limited, with many long-term orders having already been signed and contracted.
While the second half of the year is typically associated with higher downstream demand, where diminished inventories might see active restocking, some noted that increasing trends in raw material costs might potentially dampen procurement interest as well.
Looking ahead, most market sources expect prices to remain stable in its current price consolidation phase in the short term, noting that the previous sharp rally in prices was unlikely to be sustained over a long period of time.
“Cobalt sulfate price directions in the short term will depend on cost structures. ... However, it’s difficult for prices to continue rising as they’re already very high, which might be unsustainable in the long term, hence prices might remain rangebound for now, although further observation of the market is needed,” said a Chinese producer.