Cobalt price rally will extend into 2022 on demand surge, major trader says

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Cobalt has the potential to extend gains in 2022 after doubling in price this year due to growing appetite for the metal that’s vital for making rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles, according to Marubeni Corp., a major Japanese trader. 

“Demand is growing at a faster pace than anticipated,” Yoichiro Suga, Marubeni’s non-ferrous metals and materials trading general manager, said in an interview this week. Strength in demand for electric vehicles “is the biggest factor” that’s seen prices supported, he said. 

There have been no factors that would trigger a significant declines in prices, with port congestion continuing and major users sticking to output plans. That means the price is expected to “rise moderately,” he said.

The global push toward a greener future is firing up demand for battery metals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, at a time of constrained supply exacerbated by the pandemic. The clean energy transition to combat climate change could unleash unprecedented metals demand in coming decades, the International Monetary Fund said this month. 

For the near-term outlook, passenger EV sales are set to more than quadruple to 14 million units in 2025, representing 16% of the global market, according to Bloomberg NEF. The world’s biggest carmaker, Toyota Motor Corp., has also laid out a plan to invest 4 trillion yen ($35 billion) to supercharge its EV push, with a target to sell 3.5 million units annually by the end of the decade.

(By Masumi Suga and Tsuyoshi Inajima)

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