SHANGHAI, Nov 28 (SMM) – Mining company Glencore said on November 25 its Mutanda mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo has suspended operations due to difficulties in procuring sulphuric acid. This was more than a month before the initially indicated deadline.
Glencore announced in August it would suspend the mine from year-end, for two years, since it was "no longer economically viable" in a falling market.
The advance closure of the world's largest cobalt mine, however, had been digested by the spot market as of October 15, SMM assessed.
Global cobalt supply stood at 163,400 mt in 2019, according to data from SMM. Weak cobalt prices may weigh supplies to 163,300 mt in 2020. This, combined with an estimated demand of 155,100 mt, leads to a surplus of 8,200 mt next year.
According to SMM assessments, prices of feedstock cobalt sulphate have again fallen in discount against refined cobalt and cobalt (II, III) oxide, the third time this year, indicating weak demand from the power battery market.
SMM expects prices of cobalt sulphate unlikely to recover in the upcoming three months as a traditional slack season sets in for the digital sector and downstream battery producers continue to clear inventories.
Separately for lithium, trades of battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide remained muted amid weak demand.
But stable consumption of industrial-grade lithium carbonate from the glass and ceramics industry, together with some output cuts in the fourth quarter on seasonality, capped the decline in the industrial-grade material.