Ni & Co CONFERENCE: Nine key takeaways from Xiamen – by Charlotte Radford, Susan Zou and Violet Li (Metal Bulletin – November 12, 2018)

The spotlight was in Xiamen last week when market participants gathered to discuss hot topics in the cobalt and nickel markets, including higher cobalt prices and their impact on the market in addition to new trends for the cobalt industry.

High prices do not hurt the overall use of cobalt in consumer electronics

Cobalt prices hit a near 10-year high in April, but the blue metal’s high prices will not lead to many cobalt substitutions in consumer electronics, according to battery manufacturer ATL’s procurement director, Xu Shihui.

Cobalt demand from the consumer electronics industry will continue to grow due to new trends, including the intact adoption of lithium-cobalt-oxide (LCO) batteries in laptops and smart phones.

High cobalt prices boost cobalt recycling in China

The persistent cobalt price rally since mid-2016 has triggered a cobalt recycling boom in the past year. Cobalt is mostly recycled from consumer electronics in China, while hard alloys have also been largely recycled for their cobalt and tungsten content.

There will be much more than 10,000 tonnes of cobalt recycled in China this year, according to Ou Hancheng, general manager of Ganzhou Highpower Technology.

Chinese cobalt producers operate at a loss

The widening price variation between Chinese and international cobalt prices has meant a majority of cobalt producers have been operating at a loss since the beginning of summer.

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