Cobalt got off to a rocky start in November. One Metal-Pages report from early in the month describes the Indian market for the metal as “dull” and another refers to the Chinese cobalt market as “sluggish.” A smelter source located in Eastern China echoed those sentiments, commenting, “[t]he Chinese cobalt market is in stalemate and pessimistic sentiment looks set to dominate the market in the coming weeks,” according to Metal-Pages. These lackluster market conditions were the result of decreased demand.
Western cobalt prices did not fare much better. A Metal-Pages report from mid-November notes that 99.6-percent cobalt was bringing in $11 to $12 a pound, a decline of 50 percent. 99.8-percent cobalt, which is used in aerospace applications, was fetching $12 to $12.75 a pound.
Amidst this disappointing news, the China International Nickel and Cobalt Industry Forum, held in China on November 14, provided some positivity. Metal-Pages states that the Cobalt Development Institute’s David Weight noted that demand for superalloys, a downstream cobalt sector, is growing, while Evan Gu, an analyst at Beijing Antaike Information Development, said that increasing demand for lithium batteries will help push up demand for cobalt salt.
Poor demand continued to keep cobalt prices down in the second half of November, with prices for 99.95-percent cobalt from China falling RMB 5,000 to 8,000 (US$803 to $1,284) per tonne to settle at RMB 205,000 to 210,000 ($32,904 to $33,707) per tonne, according to Metal-Pages. Russian 99.3-percent cobalt has recorded a fall of 24 percent since January.
At last, Chinese cobalt prices were stable — 99.95-percent cobalt prices are unchanged from November, as are prices for Chambishi 99.9-percent cobalt, which is currently sitting at RMB 200,000 to 201,000 ($32,102 to $32,262) per tonne. Weak demand and oversupply were again responsible for these prices.