Low-grade cobalt prices hit more than two-year highs today, on strong demand for batteries at a time of low producer supplies. 

Low-grade cobalt prices hit $14.10-15.25 per lb on Friday February 28, after stabilising on Wednesday February 26 at $14-14.90 per lb.

This was the highest low-grade low since February 22, 2012. 

High-grade prices reached $14.30-15.50 per lb on Friday, up from $14.15-15.20 per lb on Wednesday.

Prices have been supported by tight producer supplies, particularly for broken cathodes and briquettes.

The broken cathode premium moved above the cut cathode premium this week. Strong broken cathode sales were reported in parts of Asia and the USA, while cut cathode business was reported lower in China.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly broken cathode premium over the London Metal Exchange was $824.21 per tonne ($0.37 per lb) on Friday.

The cut cathode premium was $616.30 per tonne ($0.28 per lb).

Ingots were trading at a $278.04 per tonne premium ($0.13 per lb) to the London Metal Exchange price this week.

“One reason it’s moved up is tightness, particularly on broken cathodes. Kasese will soon be out [of the market]. Tocantins has production issues, CTT isn’t often traded on spot. And the Chambishi pipeline, which had been a regular supplier to the spot market, is tight,” a trader said. 

But some sellers remain keen to take profits after the recent rally, and Asian sellers in particular were actively looking to sell this week. 

While all business reported on Friday was in the mid- to high-$14s and above, offers were reported as low as $14 per lb. 

And while most saw prices remaining firm, one buyer was able to purchase at lower prices later on in the week than at the start of the week.

“We’ve actually seen prices soften somewhat this week by $0.05,” the buyer, who had purchased in the middle of the Metal Bulletin range, commented.

In sharp contrast to the Metal Bulletin prices, LME prices moved lower on Friday.

The official cash cobalt price was $31,200/31,210 ($14.15/14.16 per lb) on Friday, down from $31,300/31,800 ($14.20/14.43 per lb) a day earlier.

See Metal Bulletin’s cobalt trade log for details of all deals reported.

Fleur Ritzema
Twitter: FleurRitzema_MB