Cobalt heading towards 2020s deficit

THE price of cobalt may have retreated from the dizzy heights of early 2018, but the outlook for the blue metal remains positive, with some sector analysts particularly bullish about prospects beyond 2020.

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Cobalt supply is expected to struggle to meet demand after 2022

LME cobalt prices closed at US$63,806 per tonne on Friday, down from $75,000/t at the start of the year and a peak of $94,500/t on March 21.

According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence analyst Caspar Rawles, this had more to do with negative sentiment, particularly in the Chinese market, due to raw material feed price changes, credit and cash flow issues, and upfront payment requirements, than any drop in demand. 

Despite the drop, market participants do not believe prices have much further to fall. Nor are they likely to stay low for long despite a number of large copper-cobalt projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ramping up or coming online in the near future.

While forecast supply could be adequate to meet rising demand in ...