Renewables MMI: Congo’s Copper Production Growth Outpaces Cobalt

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Chris Titze Imaging/Adobe Stock

The Renewables Monthly Metals Index (MMI) gained three points this month, rising to a July MMI value of 105.

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Congo Cobalt Output Rises 3%

Cobalt output in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) jumped 3% over the first five months of the year compared with the same year in 2018, Reuters reported.

Cobalt production for the period reached 44,522 tons, according to the report, while copper production increased 11%.

The latter piece of information confirms another report from Bloomberg, which cites a cobalt specialist who projected artisanal mining of cobalt could drop by 70% this year as a result of falling cobalt prices.

A majority of the world’s cobalt is mined in the DRC. As such, falling cobalt prices have negatively impacted the DRC’s economy — according to the Financial Times, an International Monetary Fund projection calls for 4.3% growth in the country this year, down from 5.8% in 2018.

On Thursday, July 11, the IMF announced the disbursement of about $44.9 million to the DRC in support of the country’s “economic and financial reform program.”

“The Republic of Congo has been suffering one of its worst economic crises in recent years,” an IMF release states. “The crisis was triggered by the sharp decline in oil prices since 2014 and delays in the implementation of an effective policy response. It has resulted in an economic recession, large fiscal and current account deficits, unsustainable debt, an accumulation of a large stock of domestic arrears and an erosion in confidence associated with weak governance.”

The LME cobalt price rose to $95,000 per ton in early 2018, but has plunged since then, down to $25,500 per ton this week.

Plate Prices Slide

Meanwhile, plate prices from several countries declined over the course of June, including U.S. and Chinese plate prices.

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GOES

The GOES MMI, covering grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES), surged 11% this month for a July reading of 191.

Actual Metal Prices and Trends

The Japanese steel plate price fell 0.3% month over month to $793.50/mt as of July 1. Korean steel plate rose 1.2% to $596.66/mt.

The Chinese steel plate price fell 1.1% to $618.92/mt. U.S. steel plate dropped 4.0% to $866/st.

The GOES coil price surged 25.0% to $2,993/mt.

The Chinese neodymium price fell 1.6% to $64,804.90/mt. Chinese silicon rose 0.6% to $1,499.98/mt. Chinese cobalt cathodes gained 0.6% to $96,843.20/mt.

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