Tesla Motors and its lithium-ion battery gigafactory definitely stole the show in the cobalt market this past year. Looking forward, it appears that increased demand from that facility and others will begin to push the market into deficit.
CEO Erin Chutter comments on the cobalt market and explains Monday’s standstill agreement regarding Global Cobalt’s option to acquire 100-percent interests in the Karakul and Altai Sisters projects.
“What we’ve seen over the last 18 months is a sure, steady increase in the cobalt price,” Global Cobalt President and CEO Erin Chutter said in a recent conference call. That, of course, is good news for the company’s Russia-based Karakul cobalt project.
Cobalt Investing News asked Global Cobalt, Formation Metals and Fortune Minerals about their future plans.
To find out what Tesla’s gigafactory announcement means for junior cobalt companies, Cobalt Investing News got in touch with Global Cobalt, Formation Metals and Fortune Minerals.
Chris Berry of House Mountain Partners will be focusing on cobalt this year, and he suggests keeping an eye on Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold to get a sense of what the market is doing.
Formation Metals announced that as a result of low cobalt prices and market uncertainty, for the moment it will not be continuing with development at its flagship Idaho cobalt project.
A new cobalt application is likely to increase demand for the mineral, especially as high-tech, coal-fired plants emerge, however, this increase in demand may not cause a dent in the oversupply present in the cobalt market.
Cobalt is a critical mineral with far-ranging applications, but with the Congo and China controlling the world’s cobalt supply, western nations, many of which do not produce any cobalt, are expanding recycling programs to alleviate shortage of the mineral.
Cobalt prices have been weakening this year due to oversupply and an expected surplus from new projects scheduled to start later this year. While demand is also increasing, a surplus of the metal is expected to last at least until 2016.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo supplies nearly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt, most of which is refined in China. Global dependence on cobalt from these two countries calls for diversification of supply in the sector to mitigate risk, experts say, especially as demand for the metal is growing in
Glencore already owns more than 74 percent of Congolese copper and cobalt miner Katanga. Analysts say the commodities giant is looking to acquire the rest as Katanga plans to raise copper production to 300,000 tonnes a year by 2015.