Low-grade cobalt prices hit their lowest level since January 2013 today, as a pick-up in consumer enquiries revealed the large volume of material available.

Low-grade cobalt fell to $11-12 per lb from $11.15-12 on Friday November 11, when it plunged from $11.50-12.50 a few days before.

The sharp price drop last week brought several buyers out of the woodwork, with volumes picking up as a result.

But as buyer interest rose, sellers lowered their offer prices. This was particularly the case for large-volume consumer deals.

Business was confirmed as transacted even lower than last week’s level on low-grade as sellers fought hard to secure deals.

For all the latest confirmed trades, bids and offers, click here.

One business in Asia was believed to have been transacted below $11. A second business in Europe was understood to have been completed at a similar level. No sub-$11 deals could be verified by Metal Bulletin, limiting a move lower.

Offers were confirmed as low as $11.

At the other end of the scale, during today’s pricing session, a deal was transacted at $12.40 on low-grade, while a small volume of high-grade material was sold above $13 in one instance.

High-grade cobalt prices stabilised at $11.45-12.50, as pressure remained on the downside where large-volume enquiries were reported. A large offer was confirmed at $11.30.

One seller reported dramatically reducing low-grade offer prices over the past few days.

“First we sold at $12. Then we offered at $11.90 and missed it. Then we offered at $11.15 and missed it, and then we offered at around $11 and missed that too,” the seller said.

“We needed to adjust our price down because there was a lot of competition.”

Another seller described the market as “overstocked”.

“What’s happening now is that nickel, tungsten, molybdenum, and so on are all deflated. Any bullish news lasts five minutes and then gets discounted because of the general mood,” a trader said.

“Glencore’s production cuts could have supported prices, but they didn’t. In fact, they’ve been producing a lot at Katanga,” he added.

“It’s temporarily a perfect storm for price pressure,” he said.

While Glencore has announced production stoppages at its African operations, cobalt output actually rose by 15% year-on-year in the third quarter, the company said last week.

Glencore attributed the increase to “improved recoveries at Katanga”, where it produced 1,100 tonnes of cobalt in the third quarter, up 22% year-on-year.

Fleur Ritzema 
Twitter: @FleurRitzema_MB