Cobalt Prices Surge on Investor Buying

Cobalt prices broke out in February climbing to $51,250/metric ton (mt) from $37,750/mt, a 35.8% increase, according the E&MJ Price Index. With the exception of lead, which was down 2.7% for the month, prices for other metals improved modestly with single-digit percentage gains. At the end of December 2016, E&MJ reported cobalt prices of $32,900/mt or $14.95/lb. Since then, the metal has climbed to $23.70/lb, a 58.5% increase in value in two months. So, what’s up with cobalt?

The price increase is tied to investor hoarding in anticipation of increased demand related to electric vehicles, according to Reuters and the CRU Group, who said electric car and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales could hit 4.4 million by 2021 and more than 6 million by 2025, from 1.1 million last year. By 2020, 75% of lithium-ion batteries will contain cobalt, whose properties allow electric cars to extend their range between charges, according to eCobalt Solutions, which produces battery-grade cobalt salts.

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Despite the Soft Market, Silver Remains in Deficit

At the Annual Silver Industry Dinner hosted by the Silver Institute in mid-November, Johann Wiebe, senior analyst in the GFMS team at Thomson Reuters, presented the GFMS/Silver Institute Interim Silver Market Review, which included provisional supply and demand forecasts for 2016.

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Metal Prices Finish Strong

At the beginning of 2016, metals markets were searching for direction as far as prices. Many miners who were completing optimization programs in 2015 as margins were dwindling were hoping the direction would be up and their prayers were answered in 2016. While knocking on wood, E&MJ can report, as of press time, the mining industry has noted a positive change in prices with cautious optimism, wondering if it’s a flash in the pan or a truly strengthening market fundamental.

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Copper Use to Grow Marginally

The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) convened in Lisbon, Portugal during late October. Government delegates and industry advisors from most of the world’s leading copper producing and using countries met to discuss key issues affecting the global copper market. The ICSG Statistical Committee reviewed the world balance of refined copper production and use.

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