SHANGHAI, Jan 4 (SMM)—South Africa has tightened its COVID-19 prevention measures imposing Level III lockdowns as the pandemic has worsened, triggering concerns about supply of cobalt raw materials. China’s cobalt raw materials imports in December 2020 and January 2021 are likely to decline to 7,900 mt and 6,400 mt, respectively, both on a metal basis, due to the Christmas and New Year holidays, decreased port capacity, and rising logistics prices.
At present, it is more accurate to estimate the import volume of cobalt raw materials by referring to quarterly or even semi-annual import volumes. The import volume of cobalt intermediate products was around 5,572 mt in metal content in September as COVID-19 increased logistics uncertainties and made it difficult to book ships. From September to November, the average monthly import volume of cobalt intermediate products was 7,700 mt in metal content. Higher import volumes in October and November were possibly due to arrivals of delayed shipments.
Due to the increase in logistics costs, depreciation of the US dollar, and increase in battery material prices amid strong domestic demand, the average price of cobalt intermediate products rose significantly on both yearly and monthly basis in November. At present, the cost of raw material and finished product inventory at domestic cobalt smelters has increased, supporting the rise in smelting product prices.
For more information on the China New Energy sector, please subscribe to China Cobalt & Lithium Weekly Report.