Benchmark Mineral Intelligence has initiated coverage on cobalt metal pricing by launching a Cobalt Battery Metal price to be included as part of Benchmark’s industry leading service, Cobalt Price Assessment.
Benchmark’s cobalt battery metal price tracks the metal products most suited to be converted into cobalt chemicals and used in the lithium ion battery supply chain.
This is the industry’s first ever battery cobalt metal price.
The average assessment for March was $41.50/lb ($91,500/tonne) with prices ranging between $39.0/lb to $44.0/lb ($86,000/tonne to $97,000/tonne), with the higher end of the price range transacting in the final few trading days of the month.
Prices were up on average 7.8% on the previous month.
The price rises seen in March were driven primarily by high demand as well as continued supply side tightness, particularly for broken cathodes and briquettes, with producers well sold leaving little material available for the spot market.
The problem with cobalt prices in a battery powered world
Benchmark has launched this new price assessment after demand from the lithium ion battery supply chain for a market price that reflects an industry increasingly dominated by battery demand.
Cobalt’s use in lithium ion batteries has risen from 20% of total demand in 2006 to 50% in 2017.
Yet existing pricing mechanisms from older information providers remain focused on industrial cobalt demand, have not adapted to this battery powered shift and have struggled to understand the cobalt’s entire path from mine to cathode material.
Understanding the specific cobalt grades that are suitable for chemical conversion into cathode materials – and digging into every link of this supply chain – is central Benchmark’s unique approach.
This is underpinned by our sole specialist focus on lithium ion battery raw materials that includes lithium, graphite anode and nickel and a growing team of analysts with unrivalled experience in the space.
It is an approach that has made Benchmark Mineral Intelligence the world’s leading lithium ion supply chain price information source.
Sulphate prices rise
Alongside high demand from the battery industry sources have reported to Benchmark continued high interested from traditional use markets, particularly super alloys linked to the aviation industry.
With rising demand and little new metal supply expected in the medium term it is likely that low material availability will continue with no decrease in prices expected in the near future.
Benchmark’s Cobalt Sulphate Assessment for March was RMB129,000-144,000/tonne, up 7.9% on February and up 30% y-o-y.