Cobalt Prices Soar – Asian Battery Manufacturers Eye Nickel for Future Manufacturing

Cobalt Prices Soar

As cobalt prices are skyrocketing, Asia’s most renowned battery producers are getting prompted to make some changes in their recipe for lithium-ion batteries that are used for power charging mobile phones and electric cars. The battery manufacturers are planning to decrease the amount of cobalt usage and increase the amount of nickel used for manufacturing batteries, sources related to the companies confirmed on August 3, 2017.

With forecasts for EV- electric vehicles getting concrete, the battery demand is also predicted to jump twenty times compared to the current demand. Hence, battery producers are seeking ways to cut down on components that are expensive. Cobalt costs more than double its price last year. Cobalt prices have increased remarkably in the past few years due to strong demand and shortage of supply.

Popular lithium-ion batteries containing (NMC) nickel, manganese, and cobalt specifically contain a ratio of sixty percent nickel, twenty percent manganese, and twenty percent cobalt (6:2:2) according to SK Innovation in South Korea. The company is aiming to alter their composition of these cathode elements and convert it to eight percent nickel, ten percent manganese, and ten percent cobalt. A spokesman from the company mentioned “we are attempting to make the alterations in the cathode materials from 6:2:2 to 8:1:1. This does not mean manufacturing an entirely new product, instead, it’s a part of efforts to effectively respond to the ever-changing market conditions.”

In July, cobalt prices skyrocketed to average US$ 58, 549 per ton. This is roughly six times the price of nickel. The hike in cobalt prices is driven by increase in demand and shortage in supply sparked by a tiff in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which supplies close to sixty percent of cobalt globally. Rising issues related to secure supply of cobalt is yet another reason for its price hike.

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