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Cobalt Gets Cheaper as China’s Buyers Hit by Battery Slump

  • World’s top market hit by electric-vehicle, smartphone woes
  • High prices for raw materials put squeeze on Chinese refiners
Raw cobalt.

Raw cobalt.

Photographer: Lucien Kahozi/Bloomberg
Updated on

Cobalt prices are crashing back to earth as sellers offer increasingly steep concessions to Chinese buyers who have turned cold on the battery metal as demand slumps in electric vehicles and smartphones.

The benchmark price for cobalt in Europe has slid more than 13% since a peak in May, and an even sharper decline in Chinese prices signals the sell-off could have further to run. Buyers in the country are racing to renegotiate supply deals in order to stem heavy losses arising from an unusual disconnect between domestic and international prices, according to cobalt traders and buyers.