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August 6, 2020

Coronavirus company news summary – Chile copper output increases – Albemarle warns of lithium demand drop – Price rally for cobalt hydroxide

By Matthew Hall

6 August

Statistics released by the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) have revealed that major copper mines in the country boosted output last month even as the Covid-19 outbreak hit its peak. Total production of the country, however, declined 0.7% year-on-year during the month to 460,200t as some smaller mines were compelled to reduce output amid the pandemic. But, during the first half of this year, the world top copper producing country boosted output overall by 2.6%, to 2.83 million tonnes.

Lithium producer Albemarle has warned that the company’s sales and profit for the third quarter will decline as automakers produce fewer electric vehicles due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The company’s warning comes after it posted a drop of 45% in second-quarter profit partly due to low prices for the metal caused by oversupply across the globe. Albemarle said as stockpiles rise, prices slide and the company expects low “automotive production to be felt more acutely” in the quarter.

Delays in transport of cobalt from South Africa due to Covid-19 lockdowns against a backdrop of robust Chinese demand have fuelled a price rally for cobalt hydroxide, which is used to make chemicals for batteries of electric vehicles. The lockdowns are delaying the shipments from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which account for more than 70% of supply across the globe. Cobalt refining companies in China have moved to restore hydroxide feedstock stocks as they prepare for a rebound in demand due to easing of lockdowns.


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