2021 PREVIEW: Scrap tightness should help primary tungsten, cobalt demand next year – sources

Consumers of noble alloys and cobalt who usually process scrap are expected to start taking more primary material early next year due to low metal prices and tight scrap availability in the fallout from Covid-19.

Scrap availability has tightened because industrial operations were interrupted by shutdowns aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 during the first half of 2020, and then, reduced after the pandemic clouded the outlook for demand and industrial recovery.
Primary metal prices have come under pressure from similar uncertain demand, meaning prices for primary material are appealing to buyers, while related scrap prices are unappealing to sellers.
“Scrap availability will be low unless cobalt prices reach $17 or $18 per lb,” a cobalt trader told Fastmarkets.
Prices for cobalt standard-grade stand at $15.45-16.10 per lb, according to Fastmarkets’ December 18 assessment, and material last traded above $17 per lb in March this year, before the full impact of the coronavirus had been felt outside Asia.

Prices for cobalt metal and noble alloys are relatively low, while discounts against the benchmark prices settled into long-term contracts are relatively wide, resulting...


Charlotte Radford

Ewa Manthey

December 21, 2020

14:00 GMT