Cobalt stocks could be back with a bang.

Plentiful cobalt supply in 2018 and 2019 — due in part to expansions driven by high sentiment and higher prices — caused the market to tumble, with average prices for cobalt metal reaching a low of $12.85/lb ($28,300/tonne) in July 2019, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence says.

That oversupply of the much-maligned battery metal no longer exists.

This current price recovery, albeit from a low base, is backed by real demand – not just sentiment.

Benchmark forecasts the cobalt market will fall into marginal deficit by late 2021. This gap between supply and demand will keep growing in 2022 and beyond.

“The one thing that 2021 does have that the preceding two years did not have is tight cobalt supply, particularly for the battery feedstock of choice, cobalt hydroxide,” Benchmark says in a recent note.

“Cobalt stocks have been whittled down due to the strengthening, real demand from the lithium ion battery sector due to electric vehicle (EV) sales.

“Not only is demand increasing, but the cobalt market is set to transition into undersupply imminently as demand begins to outstrip supply, due to a lack of investment in the upstream following nearly 3 years of low or falling prices.”

Exacerbating this supply deficit is the delayed transition to high nickel, low cobalt cathodes, which means cobalt demand on a per unit basis has not fallen to the levels some in the supply chain expected.

Does strong January price action so far mean prices will rally back to 2018 highs of +$US90,000/t?

Almost certainly not, Benchmark says. But the outlook for cobalt is as strong as it has been since the last price spike.

“Whilst it is too early to say this is the start of sustained higher cobalt prices in 2021, better fundamentals and therefore better times for cobalt do appear to be on the horizon,” it says.

Here’s how a basket of 105 ASX stocks with exposure to lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel, and vanadium are performing>>>

Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort. Best viewed on a laptop:

CODE COMPANY 1 WEEK RETURN % 1 MONTH RETURN % 6 MONTH RETURN % 1 YEAR RETURN % PRICE MARKET CAP
SYA Sayona Mining 133 133 75 43 0.021 $ 42,837,531.76
LPD Lepidico 90 111 171 28 0.019 $ 93,343,230.68
VUL Vulcan Energy 81 128 824 3019 4.99 $ 318,892,430.80
AGY Argosy Minerals 56 69 123 56 0.125 $ 122,340,256.92
COB Cobalt Blue 56 124 180 93 0.28 $ 60,805,461.75
CXO Core Lithium 52 162 323 547 0.22 $ 224,871,822.23
AUZ Australian Mines 44 53 156 53 0.023 $ 83,190,530.85
PUR Pursuit Minerals 43 36 437 544 0.03 $ 24,273,929.56
BSM Bass Metals 43 25 67 -17 0.005 $ 20,108,378.68
S2R S2 Resources 42 6 42 48 0.185 $ 59,829,324.01
CLA Celsius Resources 33 49 281 510 0.061 $ 47,593,302.94
GME GME Resources 32 14 69 30 0.066 $ 34,525,749.66
LTR Liontown Resources 31 37 324 443 0.445 $ 822,707,370.94
AVL Australian Vanadium 29 29 80 64 0.018 $ 52,742,858.65
GXY Galaxy Resources 28 32 241 173 2.85 $ 1,446,663,347.08
ASN Anson Resources 28 12 61 42 0.037 $ 30,431,787.47
PLS Pilbara Minerals 27 39 289 295 1.11 $ 2,987,722,430.33
CZN Corazon 25 -17 25 -35 0.0025 $ 8,133,397.86
EUR European Lithium 24 24 30 -43 0.056 $ 39,233,152.22
QPM Queensland Pacific 24 11 193 173 0.041 $ 37,820,350.58
ARL Ardea Resources 23 11 85 -7 0.5 $ 63,835,291.00
PLL Piedmont Lithium 23 23 400 291 0.45 $ 653,631,283.26
FFX Firefinch 22 38 69 197 0.22 $ 179,838,667.73
SBR Sabre Resources 22 10 267 450 0.011 $ 19,355,231.96
FGR First Graphene 22 22 165 118 0.305 $ 173,602,765.05
QXR Qx Resources 21 13 -15 -15 0.017 $ 8,540,197.15
ESR Estrella Resources 20 -33 740 833 0.084 $ 72,860,491.52
GED Golden Deeps 20 -14 20 -50 0.012 $ 10,069,973.49
VRC Volt Resources 20 9 -43 9 0.012 $ 23,791,109.11
BKT Black Rock Mining 20 35 105 154 0.115 $ 78,450,659.76
INF Infinity Lithium 19 28 111 212 0.185 $ 59,078,396.70
AML Aeon Metals 19 -4 56 -26 0.125 $ 91,471,913.15
PAN Panoramic Resources 19 23 119 -30 0.16 $ 358,909,950.70
EMH European Metals 18 75 395 361 1.36 $ 152,552,526.10
RNU Renascor Resources 18 18 18 8 0.013 $ 21,614,809.53
JRV Jervois Mining 18 15 179 109 0.46 $ 371,912,659.10
AVZ AVZ Minerals 18 90 285 365 0.2 $ 574,499,701.60
AOU Auroch Minerals 17 13 227 183 0.17 $ 44,744,898.28
ADV Ardiden 17 11 31 425 0.021 $ 45,004,299.56
LIT Lithium Australia 17 26 67 26 0.077 $ 59,419,915.20
SYR Syrah Resources 16 10 255 115 1.12 $ 548,650,117.85
VR8 Vanadium Resources 16 29 44 20 0.036 $ 13,099,710.33
CLQ Clean Teq 16 9 123 18 0.29 $ 235,004,459.45
LPI Lithium Power International 16 -7 50 -2 0.255 $ 80,531,253.81
PRL Province Resources 15 15 -39 143 0.015 $ 10,065,286.74
RLC Reedy Lagoon 14 23 60 433 0.016 $ 7,985,474.33
NIC Nickel Mines 14 24 108 102 1.26 $ 3,206,662,040.03
ORE Orocobre 14 23 95 71 5.08 $ 1,720,217,780.00
ESS Essential Metals 13 9 -15 -23 0.093 $ 18,414,357.24
AQD Ausquest 13 0 6 31 0.017 $ 11,514,655.58
OZL OZ Minerals 11 11 78 95 21.01 $ 6,963,786,406.18
CHN Chalice Mining 11 1 313 1569 4.34 $ 1,557,369,317.67
IGO IGO Limited 11 40 41 4 7.08 $ 5,400,904,276.50
TMT Technology Metals 11 7 89 188 0.36 $ 55,274,814.30
TLG Talga Group 10 -6 198 292 1.79 $ 533,939,806.26
STK Strickland Metals 10 -15 52 120 0.044 $ 18,530,666.92
BHP BHP Group 10 10 30 17 46.49 $ 137,482,884,557.98
BSX Blackstone 9 11 73 152 0.415 $ 143,215,324.55
CWX Carawine Resources 9 -9 17 -2 0.245 $ 26,678,025.99
MAN Mandrake Resources 8 -6 229 513 0.092 $ 29,450,170.44
RFR Rafaella Resources 8 4 7 -16 0.08 $ 10,577,816.84
MRC Mineral Commodities 8 8 57 33 0.4 $ 191,621,459.82
TON Triton Minerals 8 -2 -2 49 0.055 $ 58,992,339.48
BAR Barra Resources 8 -10 40 27 0.028 $ 18,973,026.83
INR Ioneer 7 9 131 67 0.3 $ 531,058,143.11
JRL Jindalee Resources 7 4 151 203 85 $ 34,645,573.65
LKE Lake Resources 7 -3 100 136 0.078 $ 65,163,432.67
GAL Galileo Mining 7 2 -2 55 0.24 $ 35,059,795.23
NMT Neometals 5 32 100 74 0.29 $ 160,878,623.47
MIN Mineral Resources 5 13 75 133 39.41 $ 7,634,426,840.48
VMC Venus Metals 5 -7 -30 14 0.21 $ 33,237,310.26
AXE Archer Materials 5 1 19 248 0.54 $ 127,202,148.49
BUX Buxton Resources 5 0 -18 -34 0.065 $ 9,387,824.81
POS Poseidon Nickel 5 1 143 62 0.068 $ 196,659,039.64
MCR Mincor Resources 5 3 58 67 1.16 $ 513,915,572.94
DEV Devex Resources 4 2 109 220 0.24 $ 69,250,190.80
CTM Centaurus Metals 4 35 73 372 0.85 $ 285,238,765.00
CNJ Conico 3 -14 275 275 0.03 $ 22,693,051.23
TNG TNG 3 7 13 5 0.093 $ 110,312,656.82
IPT Impact Minerals 3 -5 43 233 0.02 $ 35,577,804.52
BEM Blackearth Minerals 2 5 15 -6 0.046 $ 6,919,066.22
G88 Golden Mile Resources 2 19 -19 6 0.057 $ 6,766,008.04
MLS Metals Australia 0 33 33 100 0.002 $ 8,381,807.15
GLN Galan Lithium 0 1 148 185 0.385 $ 84,201,432.66
EGR Ecograf 0 -3 154 133 0.17 $ 60,057,816.72
TKL Traka Resources 0 -9 112 165 0.021 $ 11,648,696.56
WKT Walkabout Resources 0 -14 -14 -34 0.125 $ 45,387,373.85
MOH Moho Resources 0 -10 -33 80 0.09 $ 8,431,485.21
SRI Sipa Resources 0 -4 3 -8 0.065 $ 11,380,950.27
SGQ St George Mining 0 -9 -9 -16 0.105 $ 52,872,054.48
RXL Rox Resources 0 -2 -41 96 0.051 $ 104,541,251.61
LEG Legend Mining 0 0 -21 34 0.115 $ 307,997,107.92
LML Lincoln Minerals 0 0 60 60 0.008 $ 4,599,869.49
ATM Aneka Tambang 0 0 0 0 1 $ 1,303,649.00
MLX Metals X 0 44 59 84 0.14 $ 127,017,249.38
HNR Hannans 0 -8 0 -40 0.006 $ 14,159,863.15
GBR Great Boulder Resources -2 -4 35 22 0.048 $ 9,591,048.27
SLZ Sultan Resources -2 -14 19 271 0.215 $ 15,645,237.53
AZS Azure Minerals -3 -38 359 237 0.505 $ 161,745,003.53
PSC Prospect Resources -3 14 90 -8 0.165 $ 56,455,363.07
ARR American Rare Earths -5 -16 394 460 0.084 $ 27,046,573.24
MNS Magnis Energy Tech -5 9 124 73 0.19 $ 142,351,164.93
ALY Alchemy Resources -11 -16 -18 49 0.016 $ 12,100,382.15
BOA Boadicea Resources -12 -10 54 20 0.22 $ 14,293,521.58
PGM Platina Resources -13 7 17 182 0.048 $ 19,800,238.16
PNN PepinNini Minerals -18 94 140 80 0.32 $ 12,935,903.16

 

SMALL CAP STANDOUTS

COBALT BLUE (ASX:COB)

The cobalt price is due a big kick.

It’s stocks like Cobalt Blue, one of the last remaining pure play cobalt explorers on the ASX, who will benefit the most from improved sentiment and demand.

COB is planning pilot plant cobalt production for Q1 this year. A pilot plant is smaller version of the real thing, designed to test whether the process works in the real world.

COB says it is currently working with 15 global partners who have expressed interest in receiving cobalt samples, including big players like LG International, Mitsubishi Corporation and Sojitz Corporation.


 
SAYONA MINING (ASX:SYA)

US based project developer Piedmont Lithium (ASX:PLL) caught a rocket in September after announcing a deal to supply Tesla with a big chunk of its planned spodumene production for an initial five years.

Now Piedmont is looking to get bigger by becoming a strategic investor and major offtake partner in fellow US lithium play Sayona.

It will ink a +60,000tpa offtake deal based on market pricing (minimum US$500/t, maximum US$900/t), delivered to Piedmont’s planned lithium hydroxide plant in North Carolina.

Piedmont will also buy 19.9 per cent (a stake which could block any third party takeover attempt) of Sayona for ~$15m .

The cash will help advance Sayona’s flagship Authier project, the emerging Tansim project and creation of a lithium hub in Québec’s Abitibi region, including Sayona’s proposed bid for troubled lithium mine North American Lithium.

 
 
LEPIDICO (ASX:LPD)

Lepidico says it is now in confidential discussions with up to six lithium consumers and three caesium/rubidium consumers.

Lepidico has been advised by one prospective customer that its analysis of a lithium hydroxide monohydrate sample provided in 2020 should be completed in early 2021, allowing offtake discussions to advance. Offtake (purchase) deals are essential to financing a battery metals project.

Further lithium hydroxide samples will be sent to other potential customers over the coming weeks.


 
VULCAN ENERGY (ASX:VUL)

In 2020, the German geothermal lithium play gained ~1600 per cent to be one of the year’s best small cap performers.

Its share price has kept rising in 2021.

Its  large, lithium-rich geothermal brine project in Germany can produce a “unique zero carbon lithium product”, it says.

In 2021 Vulcan plans to ink offtake agreements and complete a Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) – an advanced look at whether a project is economic to build.