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May 21, 2015

Cobalt is About to See New Cycle of Shortage

A new cycle of undersupply in cobalt “is about to begin”, thanks to steady growth in the battery sector, according to CRU
“Demand [for cobalt] especially from rechargeable batteries and super alloys will continue to be robust in the medium term. Meanwhile, supply growth will plateau as recently commissioned copper and nickel operations reach capacity,” CRU consultant Peter Searle told delegates at annual conference of CDI in Toronto this week.
As a result, cobalt prices are expected to reach “$20 per lb level” by the 2020s, according to Searle, as he predicted the cobalt market turns to deficit from surplus from around 2016 onward.
Cobalt demand has been growing and is expected to grow at more than 5% per year, mostly owing to contribution from the chemical sector, during the period of 2000-2025.
Among main consumers, battery currently accounts for about 43% of global cobalt consumption in 2015, compared with a ratio of 26% in 2006, according to Searle.
Meanwhile, growth in mine production is projected to slow down to nearly zero around 2019, in contrast with a growth of as high as nearly 40% seen in 2010, he said.
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