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[SMM analysis] tight supply of cobalt raw materials superimposed downstream demand slightly warms up the price of cobalt series products, but the increase may be limited.
Jul 22,2020 17:35CST
The content below was translated by Tencent automatically for reference.

SMM7 March 22:

Hidden dangers of the epidemic in Africa continue, cobalt raw material suppliers are unified to sell, raising the price. There were few quotations for cobalt raw materials this week, and mainstream suppliers reported that except for long orders, there were few orders to supply inventory at domestic ports, and sporadic quotations were discounted by 70% and 73%.

The cost of purchasing raw materials in the smelter has risen, and the quotation of cobalt salt has been raised uniformly. The quotation of cobalt sulfate has basically risen to 4.6-47000 yuan / ton this week, and that of cobalt chloride has basically risen to 5.7-58000 yuan / ton this week. From the point of view of the transaction, the price is still in the game. In terms of industry segmentation:

Cobalt sulfate transaction price 4.5-45500 yuan / ton, downstream ternary precursor quotation increased, a few newly signed digital order prices rose slightly, but the overall downstream acceptance of price increase is not high. The increase of the current order of power battery and ternary material factory is weak to the price increase, the raw material inventory of battery factory and cathode material factory is not much, but the procurement is still cautious, only for normal production, there is no obvious increase in procurement demand for ternary precursors. As a result, the market demand for cobalt sulfate has increased only slightly from the previous month, and according to SMM estimates, the overall demand for cobalt sulfate in July is about 2640 metal tons, an increase of only 3 per cent from the previous month. From the perspective of cobalt sulfate balance, the structure continues to improve, and cobalt sulfate continues to be stockpiled in July, with a monthly supply and demand balance of about-400 metal tons and a cumulative balance of about 100 metal tons in 2018. The market inventory of cobalt sulfate continues to decrease and prices rise.

Cobalt chloride transaction price 5.5-56000 yuan / ton, this week cobalt salt factory this price has little willingness to ship, basically more than 56000 yuan / ton, upstream and downstream prices are still in the game. Downstream cobalt tetroxide prices rose, in addition to long orders, processing and other orders, cobalt tetroxide suppliers can sign zero order inventory is less, considering cobalt raw material sales, rising costs and other factors, cobalt tetroxide mainstream quotation rose to 18-185000 yuan / ton, signing sporadic, suppliers hesitate to sell, demanders procurement is also cautious, prices down transmission still takes time. The purchase demand for cobalt chloride has increased slightly, and SMM expects that cobalt tetroxide will demand 3200 metal tons of cobalt chloride in July. The inventory of cobalt chloride is low in that month, and the price will rise.

The epidemic situation in Africa is not optimistic, but it is understood that at present, quarantine and prevention and control in mining areas are relatively strict, and employees have little contact with the outside world. Once diagnosed, they are immediately isolated, so it is conservatively expected that the probability of a major outbreak of agglomeration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) mining area is small, but the effects such as low logistics efficiency are still difficult to improve in the short term. It is still normal for land transport to be extended for 7 words for 10 days, and the port capacity of South Africa is still not 60% of the normal level. Therefore, the uncertainty of cobalt raw material import expectation and scheduling plan of domestic smelters continues, superimposed by cobalt raw material suppliers' hesitant sales, rising coefficient, smelter cost and other factors, supporting the rising quotation of cobalt series products.

According to the current understanding, SMM expects power ternary orders to continue to pick up in August, the digital 3C end begins to prepare raw material inventory for the September-October peak, and the downstream demand is expected to pick up more than in July. The shortage of cobalt raw materials may continue, the coefficient may continue to rise, and the cost of the smelter may continue to rise. Therefore, SMM expects the prices of cobalt series products to continue to rise, but considering the impact of the epidemic on downstream procurement caution, the room for price increase may be limited, or it may make up for the part of the cost increase, but the degree of demand recovery is not enough to continue to significantly increase prices for the time being.

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