The Renewables MMI dropped a few points this month, falling from 83 for a November reading of 80.
The sub-index dropped for the second consecutive month after hitting a 2017 high of 84 for the September reading.
Within the basket of metals, Japanese steel plate, Korean steel plate, U.S. steel plate and U.S. grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) coil all posted price drops. Chinese steel plate, however, posted a slight price increase.
Cobalt in Cobalt
As demand for electric vehicles (EVs) increases, so, too, will demand for that rare but vital metal: cobalt.
Most of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo — political instability there this year has led to production slowdowns and skyrocketing prices, leading some batterymakers to recalibrate their battery formulas to make their batteries less dependent on cobalt.
Speaking of cobalt, one aptly named town is experiencing a boom related to the metal.
Bloomberg earlier this week reported on the town of Cobalt in Canada’s Ontario province.
Ironically, the town was built on another metal — silver — but a recent “cobalt rush,” in line with growing global demand for cobalt, has breathed new life into the small town, Bloomberg reported.
While the DRC produces a majority of the world’s cobalt, Canada sits at third in cobalt production behind China, contributing about 6% of global supply. As the Bloomberg report indicates, political instability in the DRC could lead to growing demand from other sources, like Canada, where the business climate is more predictable.
“This area’s seen more airborne surveys in the last year than in the last hundred,” said Gino Chitaroni, a local prospector and geologist, to Bloomberg. “Two years ago, if you had a cobalt property you couldn’t give it away. All of a sudden, within six months, everything changed.”
Cobalt, Ontario, is just one example of a town experiencing such a boom. As EVs become more and more prevalent, there’s no doubt others will follow in its footsteps.
The Kobe Steel Saga
Kobe Steel, Japan’s third-largest steelmaker, has been in the news in recent weeks because of the firm’s quality data falsification scandal.
Of relevance here, as reported by Reuters, is the fact that steel plate is included in the scope of the problems for Kobe.
According to Reuters on Oct. 19, Kobe Steel Executive Vice President Naoto Umehara said the company had found a new case of falsification of data at a unit that cuts and processes steel plate.
Actual Metal Prices and Trends
Japanese steel plate fell 0.9% to $710.18/metric ton. Korean steel plate fell 0.7% to $581.13/mt. U.S. steel plate also dropped, falling 2.7% to $692/short ton.
Chinese steel plate, meanwhile, rose 1.5% to $657.38/mt.
U.S. GOES coil dropped 3.2% to $2,574.
Chinese cobalt rose 3.5% to $60,762.14/mt. Chinese silicon rose 0.3% to $1,551.98/mt.