Renewables/GOES MMI: Cobalt prices bounce back in June, early July

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

July 2021 Renewables MMI chart

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

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Cobalt price bounces back

Last month, we noted a plunge in the cobalt price through the first two months of the second quarter.

In June, however, the cobalt price bounced back.

According to pricing information on the LME website, the LME cobalt price fell as low as $42,500 per metric ton in June before recovering. The price has settled in around $50,500 per metric ton over the last week.

Among other materials, cobalt goes into electric vehicle batteries, making it an object of increasingly higher demand. As automakers augment their electric vehicle offerings and announce long-term emissions targets, cobalt demand will increase.

White House mulls neodymium Section 232 investigation

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling for 100-day reviews of critical supply chains.

Last month, the White House published the results of those 100-day reviews, which included mention of neodymium. The White House said it would investigate whether or not to launch a Section 232 probe covering neodymium magnets.

“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 stated. “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.”

Neodymium magnets are used in products such as hard disk drives, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), precision guided munitions, automotive motors, wind turbines, and loudspeakers, the report added.

Ford touts electric vehicle sales

Speaking of electric vehicles, Ford Motor Co. reported its electric vehicle sales jumped by 117% in June.

The automaker also reported a first-half electric vehicle sales record of 56,570 vehicles.

Mustang Mach-E sales totaled 12,975 vehicles. Meanwhile, F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid sales reached 17,039 vehicles. Total sales of the Escape Hybrid and Escape Plug-in Hybrid reached 15,642, or up 45.9% year over year.

Rising renewables

The Energy Information Administration expects U.S. electricity generation from renewables to continue growing over the next 18 months.

“Our forecast includes both wind and solar capacity growth, and solar capacity grows at a faster rate,” the EIA said in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook. “Based on our survey data, large-scale solar capacity growth in gigawatts (GW) will exceed wind growth for the first time in 2022.”

However, after a decline last year, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise this year and next.

“We forecast that total energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will increase by 7.1% in 2021 and by 1.5% in 2022 after declining by 11.1% in 2020,” the EIA reported. “Even with growth over the next two years, forecast emissions in 2022 remain 3.3% lower than in 2019.”

GOES MMI

The GOES MMI — the index for grain-oriented electrical steel — dipped by 1.2% for this month’s reading.

July 2021 GOES MMI chart

The GOES price fell 0.9% month over month to $2,333 per metric ton.

Actual metals prices and trends

The Japanese steel plate price fell 1.5% month over month to $792 per metric ton. The Korean steel plate price rose by 6.3% to $1,132 per metric ton. Meanwhile, the Chinese steel plate price dipped 2.7% to $872 per metric ton.

The U.S. steel plate price, meanwhile, rose by 13.6% to $1,500 per short ton.

The Chinese neodymium price dropped by 4.2% to $90,984 per metric ton.

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