Cobalt metal price stable on weak intermediate prices, low activity in Europe

Cobalt standard grade prices were stable in the week ended Friday April 5, due to poor demand for cobalt intermediates following price increases in early February amid tight supply in Europe

“The intermediate market is seeing weak demand whilst supply continues to pick up, the Red Sea freight issues are keeping things relatively stable now though,’’ a trader said.

The cobalt standard grade price had edged up consistently since February 13, sliding only once in March and recovering the next day.

Fastmarkets assessed the price of cobalt standard grade, in-whs Rotterdam at $12.60-14.80 per lb on April 5, unchanged since March 26.

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Cobalt hydroxide prices had risen since March after being unchanged for five weeks, but have fallen twice this week, with weak end-use demand in cobalt sulfate market weighing on hydroxide prices.

Fastmarkets’ daily cobalt hydroxide 30% Co min, cif China was $7.00-7.20 per lb on Friday, unchanged day on day by down from down from $7.00-7.25 per lb on Tuesday April 2.

“With hydroxide around $7 per lb and conversion costs between $4-5 per lb, it means a metal price of around $11-12 per lb, which is why the metal price hasn’t moved up too much with the amount of supply [available],’’ a second trader said.

Cobalt hydroxide prices fell on April 2 for the first time since mid-January due to the weakening cobalt sulfate market. This price had previously been supported by higher offer prices and continued logistical holdup in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Fastmarkets’ twice-weekly price assessment for cobalt sulfate 20.5% Co basis, exw China was at 32,000-33,000 yuan ($4,423-4,562) per tonne on Wednesday April 3, widening down from 32,500-33,000 yuan per tonne in the previous session.

Logistics issues impact cobalt prices

The persistent delays in both seaborne and trucking logistics from the DRC to ports in Durban, South Africa, which caused a month-long delay for shipments, had supported prices.

“The prices have started to come off a bit as the end market looks bleak,’’ a market participant said.

A slow week in Europe after the long Easter weekend also contributed to the quietness in the standard grade market.

“Whenever it’s a holiday week, [the market] never gets going, [that is] usually the case,’’ another market participant said.

Market participants reported few inquiries, with China absent from the market on the last two days of the week for the Tomb-Sweeping Day holiday.

Fastmarkets has more than 150 years of specialist commodity expertise. As well as our thousands of metals prices, we have the benchmark cobalt price and a leading cobalt hydroxide price. Keep up to date with cobalt price shifts with access to cobalt price charts, data and expert analysis. Get in touch today.

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