Renewables/GOES MMI: China aims to strengthen cobalt stockpile

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Metal Prices

Chris Titze Imaging/Adobe Stock

The Renewables Monthly Metals Index (MMI) gained 4.2% for this month’s MMI value, as China’s cobalt stockpile leads this month’s report. (Editor’s Note: This report also includes coverage of grain-oriented electrical steel, or GOES.)

September 2020 Renewables MMI chart

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China looks to strengthen cobalt stockpile

Like countries around the world, China is also looking to strengthen its reserves of the strategic material cobalt.

According to Reuters, China’s National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration has issued a call to producers in the country to outline plans to sell the strategic material to the government.

As for the existing stockpile, Reuters cited cobalt industry sources who estimated China’s cobalt stockpile to be around 7,000 metric tons.

In terms of prices, LME cobalt price reached $33,000 per tonne Sept. 14, up just over 3% since the start of the year.

Tesla throws support behind Fair Cobalt Alliance

For automakers like Tesla, the cobalt market presents several risk factors, including supply shortages and, from a human rights perspective, questions regarding the ethics of cobalt mining.

A majority of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Numerous NGOs have reported on the issues of child labor in the country’s mining sector, namely at small, “artisanal” mines.

As such, the automaker recently threw its support behind the Fair Cobalt Alliance, Teslarati reported.

“Our mission is to provide mining communities with access to the technical assistance, markets, capital and equipment that enable the building of diverse local economies through viable and thriving small- and medium-sized businesses,” the Fair Cobalt Alliance says on its website.

Earlier this year, Tesla reached a deal with Glencore through which the miner would supply the automaker with cobalt. This came even as the automaker has indicated it will eventually phase cobalt out of its supply chain.

Other members of the Fair Cobalt Alliance include Glencore, China’s Huayou Cobalt, Fairphone, Sono Motors and the Responsible Cobalt Initiative.

Tesla’s 2020 Annual Shareholder Meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PDT, Wednesday, Sept. 22.

U.S. cobalt imports drop 22% in June

U.S. imports of cobalt fell 22% in June on a year-over-year basis, according to the latest reporting from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Through the first six months of the year, U.S. cobalt imports fell 10% compared with the first six months of 2019.

On the other hand, U.S. exports of unwrought cobalt and chemicals in June rose 40% year over year. However, through the first half of 2020, exports fell 13% year over year.

GOES MMI gains 3.8%

The GOES MMI, which tracks grain-oriented electrical steel, gained 3.8% for this month’s MMI value.

September 2020 GOES MMI chart

The GOES price gained 3.6% this past month, rising to $2,243/mt.

Actual metals prices and trends

The Japanese steel plate price gained 0.1% month over month to $830.14/mt as of Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, the Korean steel plate price rose 4.9% to $513.43/mt. Chinese steel plate rose 2.1% to $627.46/mt.

Lastly, U.S. steel plate fell 1.6% to $598/st.

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