Cobalt prices broke out in February climbing to $51,250/metric ton (mt) from $37,750/mt, a 35.8% increase, according the E&MJ Price Index. With the exception of lead, which was down 2.7% for the month, prices for other metals improved modestly with single-digit percentage gains. At the end of December 2016, E&MJ reported cobalt prices of $32,900/mt or $14.95/lb. Since then, the metal has climbed to $23.70/lb, a 58.5% increase in value in two months. So, what’s up with cobalt?
The price increase is tied to investor hoarding in anticipation of increased demand related to electric vehicles, according to Reuters and the CRU Group, who said electric car and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales could hit 4.4 million by 2021 and more than 6 million by 2025, from 1.1 million last year. By 2020, 75% of lithium-ion batteries will contain cobalt, whose properties allow electric cars to extend their range between charges, according to eCobalt Solutions, which produces battery-grade cobalt salts.