Renewables/GOES MMI: Cobalt price drops in Q2

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The Renewables Monthly Metals Index (MMI) dipped by 0.8% for this month’s index reading.

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June 2021 Renewables MMI chart

(Editor’s note: This report also includes the MMI for grain-oriented electrical steel, or GOES.)

Cobalt price falls

Earlier this year, the LME cobalt price surged as high as nearly $53,000 per metric ton.

As Stuart Burns noted last month, battery demand helped drive up the cobalt price in the first quarter.

However, the second quarter has been a different ballgame.

The LME cobalt price closed Monday at $42,500 per metric ton, or down approximately 20%.

G7 summit highlights climate goals

G7 leaders convened in Cornwall in the United Kingdom for the 47th G7 Summit from June 11-13.

Among a variety of issues, leaders of the G7 member states affirmed their commitments toward tackling climate change.

In a communiqué released after the summit, the leaders committed to supporting a “green revolution” that creates jobs, cuts emissions and limits the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

“We commit to net zero no later than 2050, halving our collective emissions over the two decades to 2030, increasing and improving climate finance to 2025; and to conserve or protect at least 30 percent of our land and oceans by 2030,” the communiqué reads. “We acknowledge our duty to safeguard the planet for future generations.”

The leaders reconfirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement. President Joe Biden brought the U.S. back into the agreement after former President Donald Trump had withdrawn from it.

The communiqué also highlighted the need to transition away from coal power and toward renewables.

“Recognising that coal power generation is the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and consistent with this overall approach and our strengthened NDCs, domestically we have committed to rapidly scale-up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, consistent with our 2030 NDCs and net zero commitments,” the communiqué continues. “This transition must go hand in hand with policies and support for a just transition for affected workers, and sectors so that no person, group or geographic region is left behind.”

U.S. government to consider neodymium Section 232

The U.S. government could launch a Section 232 investigation covering neodymium magnets.

The Trump administration launched a Section 232 investigation in 2018 that resulted in tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, President Joe Biden earlier this year called for agency heads to initiate 100-day supply chain reviews. The reviews were to cover important materials including semiconductors, large-capacity batteries, pharmaceuticals and critical minerals.

This month, the Biden administration released a report with officials’ findings and recommendations.

“Neodymium (NdFeB) permanent magnets play a key role in motors and other devices, and are important to both defense and civilian industrial uses,” the report states. “Yet the U.S. is heavily dependent on imports for this critical product. We recommend that the Department of Commerce evaluate whether to initiate an investigation into neodymium permanent magnets under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.”

Anglo American demerges thermal coal operation

Speaking of coal and the transition toward renewables, miner Anglo American announced it is demerging its thermal coal operations in South Africa.

“We have consistently believed in a responsible transition from thermal coal, being a transition that seeks to balance the needs and expectations of all stakeholders,” CEO Mark Cutifani said in a June 7 statement. “The demerger of Thungela lives up to that promise by bringing our employees, shareholders, host communities, host government and our customers along with us.”

Thungela will trade as an independent company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

GOES MMI

The MMI for grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) fell by 1.7% for this month’s reading.

June 2021 GOES MMI chart

In addition, the GOES coil price fell by 1.9% to $2,354 per metric ton.

Actual metals prices and trends

Within the Renewables MMI basket, the U.S. steel plate price rose by 7.8% month over month to $1,320 per short ton to open the month.

Meanwhile, Chinese steel plate dipped by 3.3% to $896 per metric ton. Korean steel plate jumped by 13.4% to $1,065 per metric ton. Lastly, Japanese steel plate fell 0.1% to $804 per metric ton.

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