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Imports of cobalt raw materials declined in January-February
Mar 24,2021 15:10CST
Source:SMM
China imported 6,600 mt (Co content) of cobalt raw materials in January 2021, down 28% on the month, but up 2% on the year, customs data showed. In February, imports stood at 6,400 mt (Co content), down 3% from January, but up 24% from a year ago. Imports totalled 12,900 mt (Co content) in the two months, up 12% from the same period last year. 

SHANGHAI, Mar 24 (SMM)—China imported 6,600 mt (Co content) of cobalt raw materials in January 2021, down 28% on the month, but up 2% on the year, customs data showed. In February, imports stood at 6,400 mt (Co content), down 3% from January, but up 24% from a year ago. Imports totalled 12,900 mt (Co content) in the two months, up 12% from the same period last year. 

China imported 40 mt (Co content) of cobalt ore in January, down 85% on the month, and 96% on the year, and 84 mt (Co content) in February, up 112% on a monthly basis, but down 86% on a yearly basis. Total cobalt ore imports stood at 124 mt (Co content) in the two months, declining 92% from a year ago.

Imports of intermediate products of cobalt hydro-metallurgy came in at 6,100 mt (Co content) in January, down 26% on the month, but up 14% on the year, and at 5,500 mt (Co content) in February, down 9% month on month, but up 26% year on year. Imports totalled 11,600 mt (Co content) in the two months, 19% higher than the prior year.

Imports of unwrought cobalt stood at 442 mt (Co content) in January, down 34% on the month, but up 116% on the year, and at 768 mt (Co content) in February, surging 74% on the month and 462% on the year. Imports totalled 1,200 mt (Co content) in January-February, soaring 254% year on year.

Import prices of intermediate products of cobalt hydro-metallurgy averaged $33,908/mt in January, up 5% from December 2019 and 41% from a year earlier, and averaged $36,911/mt in February, up 9% from January and 53% from a year ago. The average price in January-February came in at $35,410/mt (Co content), up 47% on a yearly basis.

Ports in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia suspended operations in February due to the Chinese New Year holiday and the COVID-19 pandemic, but resumed in March. SMM expects 8,000 mt (Co content) of intermediate products of cobalt hydro-metallurgy to arrive at major Chinese ports in March, with monthly average import of 6,757 mt (Co content) in February-March. 

Recently, shipping logistics in South Africa has improved. But shortages of truck drivers, cross-border isolation, and increased logistics costs have hindered transport from Congo (DRC) to South Africa. 

Domestic cobalt raw materials are expected to remain in short supply in Q2, and this, combined with high import costs, will support cobalt prices.

Cobalt raw materials
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