Lithium, cobalt markets to recover next year

Demand for lithium and cobalt is set to improve next year following a disappointing 2019, according to Fitch Solutions.

Low prices could attract purchases from electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturers, while Chinese EV sales hold strong.

Carmakers could move to offset the impact of Chinese EV subsidies cut with price reductions, leading to a robust demand for the vehicles over 2020.

Fitch Solutions autos team believes the government’s removal of subsidies to EV manufacturers will only have a short-term impact on the world’s largest EV market.

The recovery could bring much-needed relief to cobalt and lithium producers such as Pilbara Minerals, which shed jobs amid the challenging market conditions this year.

Albemarle and Glencore could also be winners of the upward trend, according to Fitch Solutions.

This positive outlook contrasts with Albemarle president Luke Kissam’s forecast that lithium would stay under challenging conditions for another 17 months.

Lithium prices have dropped by 12.3 per cent this year, owing to an oversupply in the short-term and lagging industry growth relative to targets, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

Albemarle bagged its expansion plans for the lithium plant in August this year due to a slump in prices.

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