This Commodity Investor Is Hoarding the World’s Cobalt Supply – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – March 13, 2018)

Backed by a Russian billionaire, Anthony Milewski started stockpiling the metal in 2015.

Anthony Milewski was among the first investors to realize that if electric-vehicle sales take off the way automakers expect, the world is going to need a lot more cobalt—an essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

But the market for cobalt isn’t very big, and there aren’t many easy ways for investors to bet on prices. The metal is a minor byproduct of copper and nickel mining, and only a few places produce meaningful quantities. More than half the world’s supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, an impoverished country in central Africa mired in corruption scandals and political unrest.

So, in 2015, backed by a Russian billionaire, Milewski started buying metal from mining companies and putting it in warehouses. At the time, it was cheap because most industrial commodities were stuck in long slumps.

Today, the company Milewski runs, Cobalt 27 Capital Corp., holds almost 3,000 metric tons, the largest private stockpile on the planet. (Only China has more.) Prices have since surged almost four-fold, making the inventory worth about $250 million.

Milewski raised C$200 million ($126 million) from investors this month, and he is keen to get more cobalt. However, the metal has gotten harder to find, especially with manufacturers like Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. trying to secure their own supplies by signing long-term deals with miners.

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