PRICING NOTICE: Proposal to amend international cobalt price specifications

Metal Bulletin proposes to amend its international cobalt price specifications as a result of changes in the market, and invites feedback on the following consultation.

There will be two stages to the consultation period. The first stage will consider minor changes to the current specifications. Metal Bulletin hopes to implement these first changes in February 2018. This will follow feedback from the industry gathered between December 2017 and January 2018.

The second stage of the consultation will consider a more transformative approach to cobalt pricing, following a longer industry consultation. Metal Bulletin will notify the market when a timeline for the second stage of the consultation has been confirmed.

We welcome feedback at any time regarding any part of the consultation from anyone active in the cobalt market.

Stage 1
Metal Bulletin invites feedback between November 27 and January 12 on a preliminary proposal to do the following:

1. Rename its two cobalt grades, currently referred to as “low-grade” and “high-grade”, to one of the following:
-'chemical' and 'alloy' grade respectively.
-'standard' and 'vacuum' grade respectively.
-'grade 1' and 'grade 2' respectively.

In the above instances, brands listed currently as 'low-grade' and 'high-grade' would remain separated as such, but under the new titles.

Click here for the current specifications.

- An alternative “renaming” option could involve introducing the titles 'broken cathode/briquette grade', and 'cut cathode/round grade'. As such, brands would be allocated a grade by shape, as opposed to end use. This would involve a small adjustment to the above specification due to 'high-grade' and 'low-grade' incorporating a mix of shapes.

2. Increase the minimum cobalt content in its 'low-grade' grade specification to 99.8% (as per 'high-grade'), from 99.3%. The reason for this change is that typical 99.3% brands, which had previously been listed, are no longer being produced.

3. To remove brands that are no longer being produced from its specifications. Brands affected would be: Norilsk ingots (K1A/K1AY), Tocantins broken cathodes, Mopani broken cathodes, Rubamin cut cathodes, Nicomet cut cathodes and Kasese broken cathodes.

4. To include, where requested by a substantial proportion of market participants, brands that are regularly being produced that were not included at the time of the last specification review. Metal Bulletin invites market participants to nominate additional brands of cobalt for inclusion in its specification that were not previously listed.

Please note, Euromoney plc is committed to the Modern Slavery Act. Metal Bulletin, therefore, requires positive engagement from producers, or official representatives of those producers, before approving any brand fed by material originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that was not previously listed within its specifications. Metal Bulletin reserves the right to exclude brands where sourcing is unclear, and potentially unethical.

Metal Bulletin invites feedback on the proposals listed above. The Stage 1 consultation will close on Friday January 12, 2018. Any changes related to Stage 1 of the cobalt specification review will be announced on or before January 26, 2018. An initial implementation date of February 16, 2018, is proposed. Dates and final amendments are subject to confirmation following market feedback.

Stage 2

Metal Bulletin aims to continue to adapt its pricing methodology as the market evolves, and will also be seeking feedback on further tools to support new developments in the market in coming months.

The initial consultation could include:

1. Combining the two ranges into one

2. A move to indexation of the cobalt prices, either instead of assessment-based pricing or combined with assessment-based pricing

An index is an objectively-calculated tonnage-weighted single-figure average of trades normalized to a base specification. This model has been successfully used across many markets, including iron ore, alumina, coking coal and manganese ore, where Metal Bulletin’s indices are the basis for key physical and financial benchmarks.

Should Metal Bulletin introduce an index-based cobalt pricing model, an appropriate data-driven normalization methodology could be incorporated to account for differences between different cobalt brands, shapes and qualities.

3. Should Metal Bulletin introduce an index-based cobalt pricing model, this could also be supported by the potential publication of premiums or discounts for other material types (by shape) compared with the base specification.

Metal Bulletin will continue to assess prices, according to its current methodology, until the consultation above has been concluded, and changes have been confirmed. Metal Bulletin will ensure market feedback is considered, and adequate warning is given ahead of any further specification changes which may or may not arise following the above consultation. Metal Bulletin is also inviting feedback on the timing of any potential changes to its cobalt specifications.

To hear more about the above proposals, to provide feedback on this consultation, or if you would like to provide price information by becoming a data submitter, please contact our Minors, Ores and Alloys Editor, Fleur Ritzema, by email at: pricing@metalbulletin.com. Please add the subject heading FAO: Fleur Ritzema, re: Cobalt

To see all Metal Bulletin’s pricing methodology and specification documents go to www.metalbulletin.com/prices/pricing-methodology

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