COLUMN-If you thought lithium was exciting, try cobalt – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – April 10, 2017)

LONDON, April 10, 2017 – Lithium was the super-hot metals story of 2016. A spectacular price rally propelled lithium out of the metallic shadows onto the global investment stage. This year it is the turn of cobalt.

The price of cobalt traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME) has exploded from $33,000 per tonne to $55,000 since the start of January. This time last year, the price was bombed out at multi-year lows below $25,000 per tonne.

As with lithium, cobalt’s story is all about batteries and the green technology revolution. The lithium-cobalt battery is already standard in many electronic applications and both metals are expected to see usage accelerate thanks to the rapidly evolving electric vehicle and grid storage sectors.

And as with lithium, stellar demand projections have led to increased scrutiny of the supply chain. Which is where cobalt may turn out to be even more of a rollercoaster market than lithium.

The scale and speed of the cobalt price surge over the last few months reflects a scramble for units. The cobalt market has been transitioning over the last year or so from a state of oversupply to one of shortfall, with most analysts forecasting a supply deficit in 2017.

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