SMM4, 27 March:
Cobalt Raw material Import from July 2017 to March 2020
Source: SMM, China Customs
In March 2020, China imported 8500 tons of cobalt raw materials, up 66 per cent from a month earlier and 43 per cent from a year earlier. From January to March 2020, China's imports of cobalt raw materials totaled about 20,000 tons of metal tons, up 31 percent from the same period last year. Since the end of January this year, the epidemic situation in China has raged, and the import of cobalt raw materials into China has been blocked in February, affecting the normal start-up of some enterprises; by the beginning of March, cobalt raw materials have been transported to domestic smelters one after another, and the operating rate of cobalt salt plants has gradually returned to normal; in March, the domestic epidemic situation was properly controlled, with the exception of Hubei, more than 80 percent of domestic enterprises resumed work, production gradually returned to normal, demand for cobalt raw materials increased, and imports increased.
Among the raw materials imported, cobalt ore imported 471 metal tons (converted by 8% grade) in March 2020, down 22% from the previous month, up 174% from the same period last year. From January to March 2020, China's cobalt mine imports totaled 2000 tons of metal tons, up 56 percent from the same period last year. In March 2020, cobalt hydrometallurgical intermediates imported 7500 tons of metal tons (27 per cent grade), up 72 per cent from a month earlier and 31 per cent from a year earlier. From January to March 2020, China's imports of cobalt hydrometallurgical intermediates totaled 17200 tons of metal tons, up 25 percent from the same period last year.
In terms of prices, the average import price of cobalt hydrometallurgical intermediates in March 2020 was US $26486 / ton, up 10 per cent from the previous month and down 5 per cent from a year earlier. From January to March 2020, the average import price of cobalt hydrometallurgical intermediates in China was US $24891 / ton, down 33 per cent from the same period last year.
Cobalt raw materials are generally transported from South African ports to China for about one month. After the South African ports were blocked from 26 March to the end of April, according to SMM, the export of cobalt raw materials from Africa in March had little impact, and domestic cobalt raw materials were expected to import or decrease slightly in April, considering that the shipping schedule would be blocked after March 26. In April, according to customer feedback, only a small number of vessels shipped out of South African ports in early April, and there is still a large accumulation of cobalt raw materials in ports such as Durban, although ships have turned to ports such as Beira and Dar es Salaam in search of opportunities, but capacity is limited, the overall number of ships departing from Africa in April is very small, and cobalt raw material imports are expected to decline sharply in May. There may be a shortage of short-term cobalt raw materials in domestic smelters from late May to early June.
SMM cobalt lithium new energy research team
Hu Yan 021-51666809
Qin Jingjing 021-51666828
Mei Wangqin 021-51666759
Huo Yuan 021-51666898