Cobalt hydroxide price up 55% in three months

After hitting near decade highs in March last year within a stone’s throw of $100,000 per tonne, cobalt prices fell off a cliff.

Glencore’s decision in August to mothball the world’s largest cobalt mine breathed new life into the market, but so far the response has been relatively muted with the metal stuck in the mid-$30,000s.

While cobalt metal prices on the LME aren’t moving, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s October cobalt price assessment shows sulphate prices gaining 2.3% month on month and more significantly, hydroxide (typically containing 20-40% cobalt) prices jumping 9.2%.

Ahead of Glencore’s move, the Benchmark cobalt hydroxide price was assessed at $17,050 per tonne. October’s assessment of $26,400 per tonne means prices have appreciated by more than 50% since then.

Imports of hydroxide and concentrates rose 28% during the third quarter, compared to the June quarter.

At first blush the report seems like unalloyed good news for cobalt bulls, but the battery metals benchmark pricing firm cautions that the better pricing environment wasn’t a “fundamental uptick, but “largely a reflection of improved average metal pricing (an important factor in determining the hydroxide price) rather than increased market demand.” 

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