China Cobalt Buyers Use Global Glut to Challenge Pricing – by Annie Lee, William Clowes and Jack Farchy (Bloomberg News – January 16, 2024)

(Bloomberg) — China’s battery industry has seized on a glut in the global cobalt market to push through a change in the way the commodity is priced.

A rapid expansion of cobalt mining in Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia has output racing ahead of demand, dragging down global prices. It’s also prompted a push by squeezed Chinese refineries to win changes in how cobalt is bought and sold.

Top producers CMOC Group Ltd. and Eurasian Resources Group have agreed to sell more of their material against the local Chinese price of cobalt sulphate, the chemical form used in batteries, according to people familiar with the matter. That’s a shift from pricing against refined cobalt metal that has been typical for decades.

The switch is only partial so far, and has been resisted by one major supplier, Glencore Plc, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. But the pricing change is one among many upheavals triggered by the boom-to-bust slump across the battery materials sector in the past year.

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