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17 Feb 2017 by Metal-Pages
WEEK IN REVIEW: Cobalt charged up by battery demand

LONDON (Metal-Pages) 17-Feb-17.  Cobalt prices hit a six-year high this week, meeting the target set by some traders and analysts for this year of $20/lb.   The rally paused in the second half of the week, as the market looks for further direction. There are expectations that increased prices could bring more capacity online, though this also relies on higher sustained prices of the base metals with which cobalt it produced, namely copper and nickel. 

But a clear sign came this week from leading producer Glencore, which bought out the stakes it did not already own in its Congolese copper and cobalt subsidiaries Mutanda Mining and Katanga Mining, where it has been investing in production upgrades. It had suspended production at Katanga in 2015 due to low copper prices, one of a number of capacity cutbacks waiting to be reversed.   The price rally is driven by expectations of demand growth in cobalt consumption in battery cathode materials and in particular in electric vehicles. Investors have piled into the cobalt market and are expected to sit on stocks purchased in recent weeks as prices push higher, so speculation is also a major catalyst in the price rally.   But the underlying trend is clearly here as China, eager to cut pollution, is busy putting infrastructure in place for the electric vehicles boom. The country it set to install 800,000 new charging stations for electric vehicles, the National Energy Administration said, including 100,000 public ones – a similar number to last year. These are steps along the way to the 13th five-year plan target of five million electric vehicles on Chinese roads by 2020. The majority of electric vehicle batteries, whether lithium-based or not, will contain cobalt.   Across Europe including EU and EFTA countries, more than ...

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