SGX opens trading in cobalt and lithium derivatives backed by Fastmarkets’ pricing assessments

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) launched a set of battery raw materials derivatives on Monday September 26, including contracts for cobalt metal, cobalt hydroxide, lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide

Contracts for cobalt metal, cobalt hydroxide, lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide were backed by Fastmarkets’ pricing assessments. They were met with enthusiasm and interest on launch day, with plans having been announced at the start of 2022.

“The launch of our suite of energy metal contracts supporting the clean energy transition marks a key milestone in SGX Group’s journey in the global sustainability movement. Together with our benchmark ferrous and natural rubber contracts, our ‘virtual car complex’ solution will support market participants in risk managing, or gain exposure to, the building blocks of automobiles in a single capital-efficient venue,” William Chin, head of commodities at SGX Group, said.

The first trading activity for these contracts on the exchange was completed on launch day, Monday 26 September, for cobalt metal, cobalt hydroxide and lithium carbonate.

One of the first trades was done by Singapore-based financial house BPI Financial Group.

“The launch of EV (electric vehicle) metal futures on SGX enables Asian market participants to gain exposure to this critical segment facilitating energy transition in going green. BPI takes pride in being a part of developing the EV metals market in Asia. Asia represents a significant force for EV metals both on demand and supply side,” Kenny Mah, chief executive officer of BPI Financial Group, said.

“We are honored to have facilitated the inaugural trades in SGX EV metal futures and look forward for more to come,” Mah added.

Five lots of cobalt metal were traded for November 2022 at $25.80 per lb; five lots of cobalt hydroxide were traded for November/December 2022 at $15.68 per lb; and five lots of lithium carbonate were traded for November/December 2022 at $74.50 per kg and $75.00 per kg respectively.

Cobalt market participants expressed interest in the SGX contracts on Monday, with some hoping they would attract liquidity from East Asian regions for the battery raw materials market.

“Certainly, for [cobalt] hydroxide, I could see [the SGX contract] gathering interest from Chinese processors to hedge, so I am very interested in its development,” one London cobalt trader said.

When plans for the SGX contracts were announced, many Chinese market participants were optimistic that the battery raw materials contracts would be wholly accessible to market participants in Asian time zones.

“Asian banks might get involved with these SGX contracts although they use European contracts at the moment, but it’ll need Asian consumers to use the SGX too, for liquidity,” one Asian cobalt distributor said.

An increasing trend in price-risk management has been the use of derivative contracts by market participants to hedge their business operations and pricing decisions, especially due to the high volatility seen in the past 12 months for battery materials.

“If the market access to SGX is relatively simple, like the [Chicago Mercantile Exchange] and [London Metal Exchange] are at the moment, then there will be interest in these contracts,” a European cobalt trader said.

Others in the cobalt market were hesitant about the launch of the contracts, expressing concern over the risk of “spreading liquidity out across fairly similar products in the market,” one broker said. Another European cobalt trader added that it was “too early to tell what market uptake will be.”

Fastmarkets assessed the price of cobalt, standard grade, in-whs Rotterdam at $25.50-26.50 per lb on September 26, up by 1.4% year on year but down by 23.3% since the beginning of 2022.

The corresponding price assessment for cobalt hydroxide, min 30% Co, inferred, China was $15.81 per lb on September 26, down by 47% from $29.86 per lb at the beginning of 2022.

The price for lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O, 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price, cif China, Japan & Korea was assessed at $77-79 per kg on the same day, up by 123% since the start of the year.

And Fastmarkets assessed the lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot prices, cif China, Japan & Korea at $72-75 per kg on Monday, up by 83.75% from $39-41 per kg at the start of 2022.

Read more about risk management and the details of the contracts

To read more about risk management in new energy metals and the details of the contracts, click through the slides below.

Why are risk management tools important?

  • Hedge exposure to future price volatility
  • Protect profit margins
  • Increase certainty of cost budgeting and cash flows
  • Improve procurement, planning and inventory requirements
  • Secure financing for new projects or developments
  • Mitigate counterparty risk

For more information, contact:

Peter Hannah
Senior price development manager

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