Column: Cobalt price slump triggers lift-off in futures trading – by Andy Home (Reuters – February 7, 2023)

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Cobalt prices have crashed over the last six months with demand growth slowing just as a wave of new supply washes through the market. After hitting a four-year high of $40 per lb in May last year, cobalt has slumped to $17 per lb, extending a long history of boom-and-bust price cycles.

There were hopes that this time might be different, thanks to rising demand from the electric vehicle (EV) sector but not all battery inputs are equal when it comes to the bullish narrative around “green” metals.

Cobalt has lost share to lithium as the Chinese EV market in particular pivots towards non-cobalt battery chemistry. Fears of under-supply have been replaced by expectations of surplus over the coming years.

The abrupt turnaround in both narrative and price has led to a surge in trading activity on the CME cobalt contract as producers and consumers respond to the shifting landscape.

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