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Cobalt prices remain low, and the progress of cobalt free and low cobalt batteries is renewed


As an important material for lithium batteries, the price change of cobalt has always affected the whole body.

A few days ago, Glencore released a report that the chain reaction caused by the downturn in cobalt prices led to asset impairment of $2.8 billion, and the company's first annual net profit loss since 2015.On the whole, Glencore had a net loss of $404million in 2019, while its net profit in 2018 was as high as $3.41 billion.

According to foreign media reports, Glencore's Katanga copper cobalt mine in Africa still had 12797 tons of cobalt by the end of 2019, with a market value of more than US $400million. In 2018, the company's Cobalt inventory was only 3769 tons.Katanga mining produced 17054 tons of cobalt in 2019, of which only 4257 tons were sold.It is said that these inventories have caused some pressure on the price of cobalt.From May 2018 to August 2019, cobalt prices fell by more than 70% to US $26000 (about 200000 yuan) / ton.subsequentlyAlthough the price of cobalt rose slightly, it remained at a low level of about 280000 yuan / ton by February 2020.

Not only Glencore's performance suffered a heavy blow, but also the performance of domestic cobalt giants such as Huayou cobalt, Hanrui cobalt, shengtun mining and Luoyang molybdenum, whose main business is cobalt products, also declined in 2019 due to the sharp decline in the price of cobalt products in 2019.

Specifically, Huayou cobalt industry is expected to realize a net profit attributable to the parent company of RMB 80million-230million in 2019, with a year-on-year decrease of 85% - 95%;Hanrui cobalt industry is expected to realize a net profit attributable to the parent company of 10million-15million yuan in 2019, with a year-on-year decline of 97.88% - 98.59%;Shengtun mining is expected to achieve a year-on-year decrease of 60.2566 million to 110 million yuan in net profit attributable to shareholders of Listed Companies in 2019, a year-on-year decrease of 14%-26%;Luoyang molybdenum industry is expected to achieve a net profit attributable to shareholders of Listed Companies in 2019, which is expected to range from 1.7 billion to 2.0 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 56.86% to 63.33%.

While the cobalt price continued to be depressed, there was bad news for cobalt in the market.Tesla, the global leader in electric vehicles, plans to use "cobalt free" batteries supplied by Ningde times in its model 3 models made in China to replace the currently used batteriesTernary lithium batteryAfter that, Tesla said that there was a cooperation agreement with Ningde times, and the lithium iron phosphate battery of Ningde times "does not contain cobalt itself".

Affected by the bad news of "no cobalt", the cobalt sector in the stock market recently encountered a "cold wave", and cobalt related concept stocks such as Hanrui cobalt, Huayou cobalt and Luoyang molybdenum fell sharply.Among them, on February 19, Hanrui cobalt and Huayou cobalt fell by the limit;Hanrui cobalt closed at 80.50 yuan / share, and after hours data showed that five institutional seats sold a total of 333 million yuan;Huayou cobalt closed at 48.01 yuan and sold 315 million yuan of institutional seats alone.On the contrary, "cobalt free" is good information for other enterprises. On the 19th, German nano, Xiangtan electrochemical, Fengyuan shares, Guanghua technology and other cobalt free concept stocks rose by the limit, while BYD, GuoXuan high tech and other lithium iron phosphate concept stocks rose sharply.

In fact, Tesla has beenCobalt free batteryPlus code layout.In June, 2018, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said frankly that at that time, the content of cobalt in Tesla battery was only 3%, and "cobalt free" will be achieved in the future.Kenji Tamura, head of Panasonic automotive battery business, Tesla's supplier, also said:"We have greatly reduced the use of cobalt and hope to realize cobalt free batteries in the near future. At present, research and development are in progress.

It is understood that,The existing cobalt free battery technology solutions in the world mainly have two directionsThe first is to fully tap the potential of existing cobalt free battery technology, such as lithium iron phosphate battery, and achieve cost reduction and efficiency increase by improving the energy density of a single cell and CTP, blade battery and other technologies;The second is a new type of cobalt free material battery.In 2019, honeycomb energy successfully developed cobalt free materialsIt is reported that the performance of cobalt free materials of honeycomb energy can reach the same level as ncm811, but the overall cost of battery materials will be reduced by 5-10%, and the supply of raw materials will be more stable and guaranteed.

Of course, because cobalt is a precious metal, it is certainly the best to realize cobalt free and reduce costs, but under the existing technical conditions, many battery enterprises adopt the cobalt less scheme.Ski said it would develop a new generation of electric vehicle battery "ncm9 1/2 1/2"That is, in the raw materials used as cathode materials, nickel accounts for 90%, cobalt and manganese account for 5% respectively.

In addition, many enterprises around the world are actively deploying 811 batteries with high nickel and less cobalt.At present, Ningde Shidai 811 battery has been mass produced and supplied, while battery enterprises such as BYD, GuoXuan high tech, BIC power, Yiwei lithium energy, Lishen battery, Santon new energy, far east foster, Penghui energy, Wanxiang 123, carnet new energy, as well as material enterprises such as Shanshan Co., Ltd., dangsheng technology, Changchang lithium, Ningbo Jinhe, Tianjin BAMO, Xiamen tungsten industry, are actively deploying ncm811/nca high nickel and low cobalt batteries and materials.

It is worth noting that although Tesla's cobalt free battery triggered a shock in the market and stock market, some analysts believe that it will not have a significant impact on the demand side.At present, most of the cobalt metal in the world is mainly used in the fields of superalloys, cemented carbide and mobile phone batteries. The replacement trend of 5g mobile phones in 2020 will inevitably drive the growth of cobalt metal demand.At the same time, the "cobalt free" lithium iron phosphate battery will focus on the low-end models and will not compete directly with the "cobalt containing" ternary battery.

In addition, the analysis agency also believes that under the background of the rapid increase in the penetration rate of electric vehicles, the demand for ternary cathode and lithium iron phosphate cathode is increasing, which will not put pressure on the demand for cobalt, but will instead promote the increase in the demand for cobalt.

However, no matter what the impact of cobalt free batteries is, it is still the price that affects the performance of cobalt product enterprises. It is hard to say when the cobalt price will get out of the downturn.

Article source:Battery China

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