Hunt for Next Electric-Car Commodity Quickens as Prices Soar – by Laura Millan Lombrana and Susanne Barton (Bloomberg News – August 23, 2017)

Niche metal cobalt is leaving bigger names like copper and lithium in its dust, triggering a hunt for new deposits from Idaho to Chile.

As one of the key components in the new breed of rechargeable batteries and with supply dominated by the Democratic Republic of Congo, prices have surged at four times the pace of major metals in the past year.

That’s caught the attention of governments, explorers and money managers, with annual demand set to increase 34 percent until 2026 as electric cars gain a bigger share of the global auto fleet, according to CRU Group.

Authorities in Chile, the top copper-producing nation, are embarking on a fact-finding mission with a view to restart cobalt production after a more than seven-decade hiatus. First Cobalt Corp. is merging with two other firms to create what it calls the world’s largest explorer of the mineral.

A bet on the cobalt industry has helped make a Commodity Capital fund the best performer in the commodities market, while legendary Australian prospector Mark Creasy has cobalt on his latest list of targets.

“Cobalt is the next big thing,” Commodity Capital co-founder Dana Kallasch said by telephone on Tuesday. The firm’s Global Mining Fund has returned about 70 percent this year, beating 213 peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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