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Cobalt & Lithium Prices Rising Fast

June 17, 2018

By Paul Homewood

 

One of the new additions to the BP Energy Review this year is a section on rare earths, both prices and output.

 

BP show that prices for both cobalt and lithium have risen sharply in the last year or two, although cobalt is still cheaper than it was in 2008.

 

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When we look at output, we can see that it is only rising slowly, suggesting that increased demand is forcing up prices rather than supply.

 

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Whether the supply side can increase in line with future demand remains to be seen, but it does not bode well for the battery market.

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17 Comments
  1. June 17, 2018 5:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  2. chrism56 permalink
    June 17, 2018 6:29 pm

    There you go again attempting to confuse the issue by using facts. Haven’t you seen the predictions that battery prices are going to drop by 5% a year or whatever? (sarc)
    It is very hard to rationalize the new renewable proponents’claims about how batteries will save the world with the realities of metal production.

  3. It doesn't add up... permalink
    June 17, 2018 8:25 pm

    The cobalt price has recently been back over 90,000 $/tonne.

    http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/cobalt/all/

    Lithium peaked in January.

    https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/lithium

  4. roger permalink
    June 17, 2018 9:44 pm

    It is reported on the BBC that an English director in Santa Monica was stopped in his Tesla just in time to escape from his car before it was consumed by fire.
    Tesla are to investigate this ‘unusual occurrence’ a spokesman said.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      June 18, 2018 6:21 am

      • June 18, 2018 12:35 pm

        And here I thought there would be lots of little dead Tesla’s out of juice on the Los Angeles freeways. Who knew they would be burning in Santa Monica.

      • roger permalink
        June 18, 2018 1:10 pm

        Thanks Robin for fleshing out my hurried posting.
        It rather looks like someone has mistakenly fitted one of the new Tesla flamethrowers to the chassis.
        Who knew that the battery would burn with such projectile intensity?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 18, 2018 12:49 pm

      Yes, that cheered me up. I think Tesla & Muskrat are missing an opportunity by not offering branded Nomex fire suits to go with your Tesla.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle permalink
    June 17, 2018 10:07 pm

    When Tesla collapses the cobalt price will collapse.

    Less likely that the lithium price will collapse as the Chinese don’t mind using LiFePO4 batteries.

    The reason for the price spikes is it takes about 10 years to get a mine going in the West. We have lots of cobalt here in Australia but between native title, green tape and sovereign risk it will be difficult to get any cobalt mines going. The other big cobalt producer is Congo…say no more.

    There are vast deposits of lithium in the form of spodumene in Australia. Processing is an issue since the process is energy intensive and messy. However the model seems to be to concentrate the ore as much as possible then ship it to China, where it is cheaper to process and they don’t mind the mess so much.

    Oddly there have been no articles in the MSM about this.

  6. June 17, 2018 10:22 pm

    I spend a fair bit of time talking to lithium explorers and producers. There will be brine operations coming online in Argentina over the next few years. There are also people working on lithium extraction from tail brine and petroleum waste water in the US. Higher lithium prices improve the economics of all of these operations.

  7. tom0mason permalink
    June 18, 2018 4:45 pm

    People here may be interested in this engineering view of lithium processing from ore to final product. Also are the forecasts for probable market growth, market breakdown for production, and market shares by use.
    I note that it appears to be VERY energy intensive.

    https://www.911metallurgist.com/blog/froth-flotation-spodumene-processing-lithium-extraction

    Included is this video called ‘The Lithium Cartel — The Feed’

  8. tom0mason permalink
    June 18, 2018 5:18 pm

    After cobalt-free pledge, Panasonic to triple consumption for auto batteries – sources at Reuters…

    Panasonic is the exclusive battery cell supplier for all new Tesla vehicles, including the mass-market Model 3 electric car. Sources say cobalt-free batteries are many years away.
    The scramble to secure supplies of cobalt, which stabilises and extends the life of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used to power electric vehicles, has seen prices rise to around $40 a lb from below $10 a lb in December 2015.

    http://www.mining.com/web/cobalt-free-pledge-panasonic-triple-consumption-auto-batteries-sources/

    However the search for cobalt outside of the Congo and away from the Chinese influence may be bearing fruit…

    The search for cobalt, a key component of the battery-powered auto fleets of the future, has arrived on BMW AG’s doorstep with a discovery of an ore deposit not far from the plant where the German manufacturer makes its i3 electric city car.

    Lithium Australia plans to “become a major supplier of energy metals — lithium and cobalt in particular — into the European market,” Managing Director Adrian Griffin said Wednesday in an emailed response to questions. The region “is the fastest-growing geographic sector for lithium-ion cell consumption outside China.”

    http://www.mining.com/web/cobalt-hunt-takes-aussie-explorer-forest-bmws-doorstep/

    And…

    Salmon, Idaho based Formation Capital Corporation, U.S., a wholly owned subsidiary of eCobalt Solutions Inc. (ECS.TSX / ECSIF.OTCQB) has received an economic Feasibility Study that outlines the development of a cobalt mining operation near Salmon, Idaho and hydrometallurgical refining facility on a railhead in neighboring Blackfoot, Idaho. The project is known as the Idaho Cobalt Project, and is owned by eCobalt’s wholly owned subsidiary, Formation Capital Corporation, U.S.
    ….
    The total initial capital cost is estimated at $187 million with additional sustaining, reclamation and closure costs of $101M totaling $288 million. Construction of the project is contingent upon the successful conclusion of mine financing.

    http://www.mining.com/web/canadian-company-announces-plan-open-cobalt-mine-refinery-east-idaho/

  9. tom0mason permalink
    June 18, 2018 5:20 pm

    Paul,
    Comment when to moderation (spam bin?). I know it had 3 links in it so should be expected…

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