promoting the sustainable and responsible use of cobalt in all forms

Cobalt Production Statistics

2017 First Half Production Statistics


In Table 1 we show the refined cobalt production from CI members for the first six months of each calendar year from 2011 to 2017.Glencore joined as Full Members of the CI in 2014 and so their tonnage now reports in Table 1. As a result, direct comparisons of total CI Member production with the previous years are affected accordingly. As shown in the table, total production from CI member companies for the first half of 2017 was 20,831 tonnes which is 3.8% lower than the same period in the previous year. Please note that Umicore includes production from their Ganzhou Yi Hao subsidiary in China and this tonnage is therefore not included in the figure for China.

Table 2 summarises refined cobalt production from non-CI producers together with deliveries from the DLA stockpile, if any, as the stockpile for cobalt is relatively inactive currently.

As mentioned, refined production attributed to Glencore has moved into Table 1, so direct comparisons for non-members companies in Table 2 are affected accordingly.

Overall, production from non-CI producer companies was 35,714 tonnes which represents an increase of about 36% when compared to the same period in the previous year. This was a result of an almost 45% increase in refined production reported for China when compared to the first half of 2016. This does not include recycled material or any State Reserve Bureau (SRB) or Company stockpiled cobalt.As previously mentioned the Chinese refined production shown in Table 2 does not include Umicore’s production in China, which is included in Table 1.

The DLA reports its figures slightly differently from the past and the figure shown is the ‘change in uncommitted inventory’ which should be similar to the old DLA ‘delivery’ figure we had reported in previous years.

There have been no sales over the period and therefore the DLA inventory at the end of June 2017 remains at 301 tonnes. It is understood that the DLA cobalt Basic Ordering Agreement sales program has been deactivated until further notice (DLA Strategic Metals news release of March 11, 2011).

The total availability of refined cobalt in the first half of the year from 2011 to 2017 is shown in Table 3.

The figures show that overall availability in the first half of 2017 was 56,545 tonnes, some 18% higher than the same period in 2016, almost exclusively as a result of the increase in Chinese refined production. This follows on from a ~5.5% decrease when reporting these figures at the same time last year.

As in the past, we emphasise that the figures do not include production of refined cobalt from companies treating various cobalt-containing intermediate products and scrap that do not report their figures.


The CI has published supply and apparent demand data in the WBMS/CI “World Cobalt Statistics 2014-2016”.

The data were derived from worldwide import/export figures. The publication details apparent worldwide refined cobalt demand by geographical location. It can be purchased from either the CI or WBMS. Please see website ‘Publications’ for details.

In 2016, apparent worldwide demand totalled around 92,000 tonnes, which is about 6% higher than the previous year. As mentioned, the publication can be purchased from either the CI or the WBMS.

(See this website for details)


The HG (LMB) price opened 2017 at US$14.75/lb (compared with US$10.30/lb in 2016) and at the end of September was US$30.30/lb (compared with US$12.90/lb at the same time in 2016). The LG (LMB) price opened at US$14.65/lb (compared to US$10.30/lb in 2016) and at the end of September was US$29.70/lb (compared with US12.75/lb this time last year).

The CI takes the average bid/offer spread for both the HG and LG Metal Bulletin price quotation when calculating the above prices. A particularly notable feature over recent year is the narrowing of the spread between HG and LG as the demand for chemical grade cobalt continued to increase.

Cobalt has traded on the LME since February 2010 with the 3M contract which was joined by cash trading in May of that year. The average LME cash price for 2017 to end September is US$23.96/lb (the CI takes the average daily bid/offer cash price for cobalt and averages this over the period).

The C-3 spread varied between a US$247.5/tonne contango and a US$3000/tonne backwardation with an average spread for period of about US$188/tonne in backwardation, though a large part of the year was level.