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 July 24, 2014
China stockpiling strategic industrial metals - sources
    Publisher: Reuters
    Author: Polly Yam and Harpreet Bhal


Related Topics:
*Cobalt market tight as supplies fall short of demand
*Traders see more Chinese buying before year-end
*SRB moly tender is first in about two decades

China stockpiling strategic industrial metals - sources

By Polly Yam and Harpreet Bhal

HONG KONG/LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - China has bought almost 3,000 tonnes of molybdenum oxide, used to strengthen steel, for the first time in 20 years, helping to support struggling domestic producers squeezed by tight credit conditions, industry sources in Europe and Asia said. It has also bought some 100-200 tonnes of cobalt, used in electronics and batteries for electric vehicles, in a separate closed-door tender, four sources said, although less than the 1,000 tonnes it had tendered for.

China's State Reserves Bureau (SRB) bought the 2,700 tonnes of the minor metal used to make ferro-molybdenum, an ingredient in special steel for the petrochemicals and oil sectors, two sources who had direct knowledge of the closed-door tender said. The SRB is expected to buy another 2,300 tonnes of molybdenum before the end of 2014, and is also likely to still be looking to buy the 1,000 tonnes of cobalt initially sought, a move traders said could squeeze cobalt prices higher.

High grade cobalt prices COB-CATH-LON are at $14.95-$16/lb, their highest since May 2012 as the market had tightened in recent weeks due to high demand and low producer supplies. "They were unable to find the quantity they needed. They will have to come back into the market another time to buy up to 1,000 tonnes," a cobalt trader said.

Traders said the molybdenum oxide purchase was unlikely to significantly lift international prices, with plentiful supplies and low demand. Molybdenum oxide prices are trading steady at $13.30-13.50/lb MLY-OXIDE-LON. One of the sources said the molybdenum oxide purchases will help domestic producers who have been hurt by low demand and tight credit conditions in the last two years.

"China is still a self-contained market. In light of the production in China and the stocks over there, 5,000 tonnes being bought within the domestic Chinese market is not a lot. It will quite easily be absorbed," a molybdenum trader said. Global molybdenum mine production totalled 270,000 tonnes last year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), with top producer China accounting for 110,000 tonnes of output.

The SRB has in the past bought other metals such as aluminium and zinc domestically as a means of supporting local producers. The buying came after the state body in 2012 added more metals, including some minor metals and rare earths, in its programme of stockpiling strategic materials. In December, China bought nearly a quarter of the global production of germanium, a material used in fibre optics and semiconductors, according to traders. China does not publish details of its metals stockpiles. Officials at the purchasing department of State Reserves Bureau in Beijing were not available to comment.


The stockpiler paid around 1,400-1,450 yuan per one percent of metal contained in the 2,700 tonnes of molybdenum oxide, and around $15.70/lb for cobalt. Traders said cobalt market was seeing brisk demand from the battery industry and low producer supplies, resulting in prices moving-up following the SRB's purchase.

"Cobalt demand is pretty healthy. The producers have nothing to sell at the moment and this is causing tightness in the market," another trader said. Cobalt is an ingredient in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, used widely in the electronics sector and in electric vehicles. Mine production for cobalt was 120,000 tonnes last year, USGS said.

Traders said the SRB was unable to secure the 1,000 tonnes tendered for as sellers had only wanted to sell up to 200 tonnes due to a low bid price by the stockpiler. (Editing by Susan Thomas and David Evans)

Read the full article here: Reuters - China stockpiling strategic industrial metals - sources

 July 18, 2014
Cobalt trades up to $15 per lb on producer tightness, SRB news
    Publisher: Metal Bulletin
    Author: Alex Harrison


Cobalt trades up to $15 per lb on producer tightness, SRB news

Buyers of cobalt metal in Europe are being approached by their customers for product, in anticipation that prices will continue to move up on news that China's State Reserve Bureau (SRB) plans to build stocks, combined with producer tightness.

Low-grade cobalt prices moved up to the $15-per-lb level for the first time since April as a result, trading up $14.25-15 per lb on July 18, compared with $14-14.90 per lb on July 16.

On July 11 Metal Bulletin reported that China's SRB would start making metal purchases, with some suggesting that the state-owned stockpile might buy as much as 1,000 tonnes.

"People think that SRB buying will take the market higher, and there are spot enquiries for product as a result, because customers want to buy before prices move up," one buyer source said.....

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 July 16, 2014
China's SRB could buy about 1,000 tonnes of cobalt, sources say
    Publisher: Metal Bulletin


China's SRB could buy about 1,000 tonnes of cobalt, sources say

After Metal Bulletin reported last week that China's State Reserve Bureau (SRB) has invited 10 companies to start cobalt purchases, market participants have said that the SRB could stockpile about 1,000 tonnes of the minor metal.

"Given the number of invitations the SRB has sent out, it would be meaningless to purchase fewer than 1,000 tonnes," a source said. The SRB has invited over 10 companies, mostly major cobalt producers and traders, for the purchase, market sources told Metal Bulletin last week. "We expect the purchase volume to be between 1,000 and 2,000 tonnes," another source said. The bureau would give three months for delivery of the material...

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 July 11, 2014
Cobalt market anticipates further price hike after news of SRB purchase
    Publisher: Metal Bulletin


Cobalt market anticipates further price hike after news of SRB purchase

News that China's State Reserve Bureau (SRB) plans to purchase cobalt metal is likely to drive international cobalt prices even higher over coming days, sources told Metal Bulletin.

Market participants expect several hundred tonnes of cobalt metal to be purchased by the SRB over the next few weeks. This will reduce supplies and drive cobalt prices, which have been rallying for the past few weeks, even higher, sources said. "It's going to soak up a lot of units that traders have been sitting on, so it's a game changer," a trader said. "It'll be interesting to see if there's LME activity on the back of it," he added. The official London Metal Exchange cash cobalt price on Friday July 11 was $31,000/32,000 per tonne ($14.06/14.52 per lb), up from 30,500/31,500 ($13.84/14.29 per lb) a day earlier, suggesting an immediate market reaction. No trades were shown on LME Select, however. "It will take time for the waves of knowledge to...

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 July 04, 2014
Cobalt Rises to 1-Year High on Medical to Battery Demand
    Publisher: Bloomberg Businessweek
    Author: Claudia Carpenter


Bloomberg BusinessWeek - July 05, 2014 Cobalt prices rose to a one-year high in London on signs that demand from the medical to battery industries is picking up.

Inventories of the metal have dropped 4.4 percent since June 18 to 546 metric tons, according to data from the London Metal Exchange. Producers sold more metal than usual in the second quarter because they expected prices to fall, forcing consumers to turn to the spot market for material now, said Stephen English, sales manager at SFP Metals (U.K.) Ltd., London-based specialists in cobalt. Prices climbed 3.3 percent this month, erasing the 2.8 percent second quarter decline.

"Producers sold quite a lot of material in June, probably thinking the price would erode in July and August as the summer months approached and probably got themselves into an oversold situation," English said. "We have seen a pick-up in demand. Aerospace is good, medical is good, power generation is good. Batteries are good."

Cobalt for immediate delivery jumped 3.8 percent to $31,500 a ton on the LME, the highest since July 2, 2013. Prices climbed 8.8 percent this year after gaining 14 percent last year.

Cobalt stockpiles represent less than 1 percent of annual demand of about 85,000 tons a year, English said. Nickel stockpiles are 304,536 tons, or about 16 percent of annual demand of 1.89 million tons, according to Barclays Plc data.

Cobalt is used in lithium ion batteries for mobile phones and tablets, magnets, body replacement parts and nickel-based super alloys, English said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Claudia Carpenter in London at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Agnieszka Troszkiewicz at

(To Read the full article please click here).

 July 02, 2014
Cobalt cruises higher as bulls anticipate summer trade surge
    Publisher: Metal Bulletin


Cobalt cruises higher as bulls anticipate summer trade surge

Low-grade cobalt reached $13.75-14.50 per lb on Wednesday July 2, up from $13.50-14.35 on Friday June 27. High-grade cobalt jumped to $14-15 per lb from $13.60-14.60. Tonnage sold on a spot basis has surged over the past week, with consumers coming into the market for large volumes. Traded volumes between Friday June 27 and Wednesday July 2 reported on a spot basis across both grades jumped to 87.5 tonnes, dwarfing the 25.5 tonnes reported during the same period a week earlier. A week prior to this, 42 tonnes were sold within the same time-frame, Metal Bulletin's trade logs for June and July show. Sellers, some of whom had been selling in the low-$13s until recently, raised their offer prices or held back ahead of anticipated further...

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 June 23, 2014
Tesla Gigafactory Could Be Boon for Graphite, Lithium, Cobalt: Simon Moores
    Publisher: The Gold Report
    Author: Brian Sylvester


Tesla Motors makes the most sought-after electric cars in the world. The cars run on advanced electric batteries and Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to build those batteries in America. Tesla has dubbed its $5-billion pet project the "Gigafactory," and it could be up and running by 2017, prompting the need for battery-grade materials like graphite, lithium and cobalt. In this interview with The Gold Report, Simon Moores, manager of industrial minerals data with London-based Industrial Minerals, helps readers sort out the critical materials investors should keep an eye on.

The Gold Report: Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA:NASDAQ) is planning to build a $5-billion "Gigafactory" in the southwestern U.S. that would produce batteries for its high-end electric cars. You seem excited about it. Tell investors why they should be.

Simon Moores: This one plant would essentially double the world's output of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. That's 500,000 batteries a year at capacity. The idea is to drive down the cost of EV batteries by 30% or more. Tesla is focusing on the supply chain to build the lowest-cost batteries possible. If it can make the cost of its cars much cheaper, it should spark mass uptake of electric vehicles. It's a plan to turn the world electric, in a sense, and Tesla begins in 2017 with the Gigafactory and the launch of its third generation and first mass-market model.

TGR: Would Tesla be building batteries solely for Tesla or would it be leasing its technology to other vehicle manufacturers?

SM: It's a good question. At the moment, Tesla is partnering with Panasonic Corp. (PCRFY:OTC.MKTS) to build batteries for its electric vehicles. But Tesla wants to build the batteries itself, the majority of which would supply Tesla's car assembly plant in California. But there would be more batteries than Tesla could use initially, so it is looking to sell batteries elsewhere, too.

TGR: Initially, there was some chatter about Apple Inc. (AAPL:NASDAQ) being involved.

SM: I heard that rumor as well. Initially I thought that Apple could be involved in the design of the electric vehicles, but to be honest Tesla has done a pretty good job without its neighbors.

In terms of a battery offtake with Apple, I haven't heard anything on this but I believe the plant will only be producing EV batteries, which are much bigger than the portable energy batteries that Apple uses.

TGR: Why would Tesla build a plant to produce EV batteries in the U.S. while others already exist in Asia?

SM: Mainly because that's where Tesla's cars are made. The commercial battery industry is really an Asian one, centered on Japan and South Korea. It's just the way it's developed since the 1990s with leading companies like Sony.

But the thing that really has people excited is the size of the project. Something on this scale could see the return of manufacturing for the 21st century in North America. Asia is where the battery industry grew and developed over the last 20 years. That's where the U.S. missed out.

Companies like Apple have led the U.S. tech revolution but Apple creates its ideas in California, yet manufactures them in China. With something like Tesla's Gigafactory, there is a chance for high-value manufacturing to come back to the U.S.... (To Read the full article please click here).

 June 19, 2014
Audi Preparing Luxury Electric Car Offensive to Rival Tesla
    Author: Via Reuters


Audi has drawn up plans for an electric performance car offensive to tackle and rival the future plans of Tesla Motors if the electric market continues to rise in popularity and importance.

Analysts believe that by the end of the decade, sales of electric cars will rise sharply and as it stands, Tesla is ahead of the game. Additionally, Audi rival BMW has already launched an all-electric car in the form of the i3. As a result, Audi is said to be lagging behind the competition slightly but next year, the company's first all-electric car will be launched in the form of the long-awaited Audi R8 e-tron.

While production of the Audi R8 e-tron will be tailored to demand, the fact that Audi has managed to solve range problems and lift the range to 450 km in just a couple years plays testament to the progression of battery and electric motor technology. The Audi R8 e-tron isn't the only electric high-end car the German marque is preparing with it having drawn up blueprints for a range of high-performance electric sedans and SUVs.

While speaking with Reuters, NordLB analyst Fran Schwope said, "Germany's major carmakers all have their electric-car plans ready in the drawer. They want to be prepared when demand accelerates." Schwope suggested this demand could happen in 5-7 years.

One key electric model Audi is said to have started drawing up is an electric version of the upcoming Audi Q8 SUV to rival the Tesla Model X.

Via Reuters

 June 19, 2014
Is Tesla the most important car company in the world? Morgan Stanley thinks so
    Publisher: Market Watch - The Wall Street Journal
    Author: Claudia Assis


From fledgeling startup to "arguably the most important car company in the world": that's how analysts at Morgan Stanley defined Tesla Motors Inc. in a research note published Wednesday.

In case anyone had any doubts, "we are not joking," said the analysts, led by Adam Jonas. "Tesla is also emerging as an emblematic force in America's effort to foster high tech manufacturing job growth," they added.

Here is Morgan Stanley's case for Tesla, in three broad themes:

Suppliers want to do business with Tesla

"We hear numerous examples of suppliers who once shunned Tesla who are now considering dedicated line and facilities only to supply [Tesla]"

Much-larger car makers respect it

"A BMW engineer recently explained to us how Tesla's presence has helped invigorate the spirit of automobile innovation that was beginning to run stale, further testifying that BMW will be a stronger company longer-term because Tesla is around. Whoa."

Five states are scrambling to have Tesla's $5 billion 'gigafactory'

A governor "would need a very good reason to say no to a Tesla factory," Morgan Stanley said. Sales forecasts plus a vertically integrated battery factory and charging infrastructure could imply Tesla directly employing 20,000 U.S. workers and indirectly behind more than 100,000 U.S. jobs in the next seven years, the investment bank said.

Moreover, Tesla's "Gen 3″ car --- aimed at the mass market and expected to hit the road around 2016 --- will be the "most American-made car on the road," pushing 90% U.S.-made components, more than a Ford F-150 or a Chevy Silverado, Morgan Stanley said.

Claudia Assis

Follow Claudia Assis on Twitter @ClaudiaAssisMW

 June 16, 2014
Chris Berry sees potential in energy metals uranium, scandium, cobalt
    Publisher: Northern Miner Mining Markets
    Author: Alisha Hiyate


Chris Berry sees potential in energy metals uranium, scandium, cobalt

Chris Berry, co-editor of Disruptive Discoveries Journal,
believes the global economy is in for a period of disinflation or deflation -- not a supportive environment for commodities.

"We see a lot of excess capacity in the global economy right now, we see an excess of labour, an excess of capital and an excess of dollars sloshing around in the global economy --- all of which needs to find a home and be soaked up," Berry told TNM TV news at the Canadian Investor conference in early June.

"And until that happens, we see a very challenging period for the commodities sector going forward."

Berry, who writes the Disruptive Discoveries newsletter with his father Michael Berry, explains that a disinflationary or slow growth environment implies a cap on wages, living standards, and on the commodity demand that underpins such growth.

However, the ongoing trend toward a rising standard of living in the developing world, something Berry calls a "convergence of lifestyles" between the emerging world and the developed world, is still in place.

And for selective investors, there are still opportunities in commodities.

"I think you need to look individually at each commodity, look at its supply and demand dynamic, look at where it's used today, look at next generation technology or uses, and try and formulate an idea going forward," he said.

Energy metals such as uranium, lithium, graphite, copper and cobalt are a big part of Berry's investment thesis.

"It has to do with the idea that no middle class has either grown or sustained itself throughout history without reliable access to affordable energy," he said.

Berry is particularly interested in uranium, cobalt and the esoteric metal scandium.

"Scandium is a very, very tiny market -- about 15 tones per year. There's really no primary production, it all comes from either tailings or as coproducts elsewhere," Berry said.

Despite its limited supply, there numerous high-tech applications for scandium, including solid oxide fuel cells and the aircraft business, where aluminum-scandium alloys can make planes lighter and more fuel efficient.

Berry says the potential growth in demand from solid oxide fuel cells alone is "supernormal," and he believes scandium junior EMC Metals (TSX: EMC) could be poised to benefit.

While growth in the scandium market is predicated on a reliable source of scandium, that is what EMC hopes to be able to provide in the coming years, Berry said.

EMC primary project is the Nyngan scandium project in New South Wales, Australia.

To Watch the full TNM TV news interview with Berry here.

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