Decrease in raw material imports and firm demand boost Co prices


A drop in imports of cobalt raw materials into China in August due to lower logistics efficiency in the port of Durban in South Africa, coupled with firm demand from the downstream sectors of new energy vehicles and 5G telecommunications, drove up the price of cobalt.

Argus valued the price of 99.8% grade metallic cobalt at 366-386 yuan / kg (56.3-59.4% / kg) ex-factory today, up 39% since early 2021. Import prices for 30% min grade cobalt hydroxide were valued at $ 21.20 – 21.60 / lb China cif on September 21, up 67% since the start of this year.

The Port of Durban is a key transit port for the exports of cobalt raw materials from the main global production center of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

China imported 21,644 tonnes of intermediate cobalt products, with 5,627 tonnes of metal equivalent in August, down 24% from the previous year and 13% from July. The country imported 2,340 t of cobalt concentrates, corresponding to 164 t of metal equivalent, in August, down 56% from a year ago but up 34% from July.

Combined imports of cobalt raw materials, including concentrates and intermediates, amounted to 5,791 tonnes of metal equivalent in August, down 26% from the previous year and 12% from to July. Imports of cobalt-based raw materials from January to August reached 52,839 tonnes of metal equivalent, up just 7% from the previous year. China also imported 246,938 tonnes of mixed hydroxide precipitate in January-August, up from 164,474 tonnes a year earlier.

The low logistical efficiency of the port of Durban caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with civil unrest in the country since early July, has resulted in port congestion and shipping delays and a drop in imports of cobalt raw materials from China in August.

Most market participants say it is difficult for China’s raw material imports to increase in September. “Logistics at the port of Durban were severely congested when the unrest in South Africa erupted, so our shipping delays in August were more severe than in July,” said a major supplier of cobalt raw materials.

Demand from the IT, communications and consumer electronics (3C) and electric vehicle (EV) sectors remained strong in the first eight months of this year, although the 3C sector showed signs of weakening from the second trimester.

Domestic cellphone shipments increased 12.3% from the previous year to 227 million units between January and August, including 168 million 5G phone shipments, which increased 79.7% over the year, according to the Chinese Academy of Information and Communication Technologies.

The number of 5G mobile phone users in China stood at 419 million at the end of August, a significant increase of 220 million from the end of 2020, according to data released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology .

NEV’s production from January to August rose 193% on the year to 1.813 million, with sales up 194% to 1.799 million units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Total battery power increased by just over 200% to reach 111.5 GWh in January-August, while installed volumes increased 176.3% to 76.3 GWh.

The production and installed volumes of ternary batteries during the eight-month period reached 53.2 GWh and 40.9 GWh, increasing by 137.2% and 111.2% respectively over the year and representing 47.9 % and 53.8% of the total battery volume.


Argus Media Limited published this content on September 23, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on September 23, 2021 11:11:06 AM UTC.


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