Last year Roskill expected cobalt to grab its “fair share of headlines” in 2019 – and they weren’t wrong.

It’s all happening.

Last week, Glencore told investors that a wave of supply from its subsidiary Katanga would be deferred until at least 2020 after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Government wasn’t convinced by the miner’s plan to remove radioactivity from the cobalt.

Glencore then reportedly slashed workforce numbers at the 27,000 tonnes a year Mutanda mine, also in the DRC, amid rising production costs and an “uncertain political climate”.

And now there’s speculation that Zambian copper-cobalt refiner Chambishi Metals, which sources most of its feedstock from the DRC, has suspended operations.

Last year, Mutanda and Katanga together were expected to contribute around 50,000 tonnes of mined supply in 2019, CRU senior analyst George Heppel says.

That’s about 30 per cent of global cobalt supply, and more than 40 per cent of DRC production.

“Given the expected reduction in output from Mutanda (as well as the halting of shipments from Katanga), we expect to see about 15,000 tonnes less output from the DRC in the first half of 2019,” Mr Heppel told Stockhead.

Scroll down for the performance of ASX listed smallcaps with exposure to cobalt>>>

So why are cobalt prices so depressed?

via GIPHY

Prices haven’t recovered because high cobalt prices, which peaked at about $98,000 a tonne, sparked an explosion in cobalt intermediate production in the DRC last year.

Cobalt hydroxide stockpiles are still very high.

While these have declined in the wake of lower prices, “there remain significantly large inventories of intermediate material in Africa at the moment”, Mr Heppel says.

“So we expect Glencore’s production curtailments can largely be absorbed by the market,” he says.

“This idea is supported by the fact that payables have barely nudged since the Katanga news last year, and remain at a market bottom of around 60 per cent for clean hydroxide, and in the 40s and 50s for concentrates and off-spec material.”

Plus, any disruption to Chambishi’s output – just 2300 tonnes in 2018 — is largely expected to be temporary.

Unless the refinery shuts down entirely, the market is unlikely to be severely impacted by the news of layoffs at the smelter, Mr Heppel says.

Carmakers are putting up with the drama for now

Are battery makers and auto companies concerned enough about these issues plaguing the DRC to source their cobalt elsewhere?

It doesn’t seem that way, Mr Heppel says – if anything, auto makers have become “more accepting” of DRC volumes over the past 18 months.

In some cases, they are working on schemes which would allow them to work directly with artisanal (or small scale) miners, like this blockchain project between carmaker Ford and IBM.

So, while some new supply of cobalt could come from other jurisdictions, the DRC will continue to be the major source of cobalt for battery applications in the long-term, Mr Heppel says – “barring any ‘black swan event’ like a civil war, that is”.

Here’s the good news for ASX smallcaps

Cobalt demand will continue to rise EVEN IF manufacturers use less per battery. Source: Cobalt27

Spoiler: it’s not civil war.

It’s generally accepted that we have enough cobalt until about 2022/2023; then things get hairy for battery makers and EV manufacturers.

This is when oversupply will turn into a supply deficit.

Last year Wood Mackenzie even said that despite the coming wave of supply  (which is wavering, obviously) the cobalt market will enter a deficit “as soon as 2023”.

Benchmark Minerals Intelligence has predicted demand for EVs could spark a cobalt deficit as soon as 2022. Roskill has similar forecasts.

The good news is that there’s plenty of Australian cobalt juniors who are currently gearing up for first production as this deficit hits.

Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ) wants to  kick off construction in 2019, with the first nickel-cobalt exports to Korean offtake partner SK Innovations’ European electric vehicle (EV) battery plant slated for 2022.

Clean TeQ (ASX:CLQ) is aiming for first production in 2021 at its advanced Sunrise nickel-cobalt project.

And then there are plenty of other promising juniors who are ignoring current negative sentiment and keeping their eyes fixed on the longer-term prize.

Australian Mines boss Benjamin Bell told Stockhead that no one is looking at today’s pricing when it comes to mine financing.

“Every bank that you talk to have their own forward forecasts for nickel pricing, cobalt pricing, EV demand, the AU-US dollar exchange rate – all these things.”

These numbers are not dissimilar when you talk amongst the different lenders, Mr Bell says.

“If you look at where the cobalt price was last year, it was probably 50 per cent higher than it is currently,” he says.

“Just like these lenders didn’t rely on that price, they aren’t relying on the price right now.”

Here’s a list of ASX stocks with exposure to cobalt.

Swipe or scroll to reveal the full table. Click headings to sort:

Ticker Name Share Price [Mon Feb 11] 1 Week Price Change % 1 Year Price Change % Market Cap
AUR AURIS MINERALS 0.04 33.3333 -6.9767 $16,347,254.00
ASN ANSON RESOURCES 0.088 28.7879 -59.5238 $40,124,348.00
BSX BLACKSTONE MINERALS 0.1 27.7778 -74.4444 $8,007,152.50
CZN CORAZON MINING 0.0045 25 -66.6667 $6,326,416.50
BUX BUXTON RESOURCES 0.12 20 0 $15,646,375.00
LML LINCOLN MINERALS 0.006 20 -81.8182 $3,449,902.00
AUT AUTECO MINERALS 0.006 20 0 $5,400,000.00
VXR VENTUREX RESOURCES 0.22 19.4444 -4.4444 $51,652,112.00
TRT TODD RIVER RESOURCES 0.074 19.3548 -41.9385 $11,510,067.00
MZZ MATADOR MINING 0.19 18.75 -40.625 $10,237,833.00
TAR TARUGA MINERALS 0.06 17.6471 -25 $8,470,034.00
ADN ANDROMEDA METALS 0.007 16.6667 0 $7,590,956.00
JMS JUPITER MINES 0.29 14.5833 290.9465 $519,132,608.00
LPI LITHIUM POWER INTERNATIONAL 0.275 14.5833 -33.7349 $72,191,320.00
INF INFINITY LITHIUM 0.071 14.5161 -40.8333 $13,882,491.00
MXR MAXIMUS RESOURCES 0.071 13.2353 -55.3623 $2,149,384.25
ENT ENTERPRISE METALS 0.009 12.5 -40 $3,492,564.75
GPX GRAPHEX MINING 0.19 11.7647 -36.6667 $17,760,528.00
RNU RENASCOR RESOURCES 0.02 11.7647 -47.2222 $20,761,638.00
ZNC ZENITH MINERALS 0.067 11.2903 -59.4118 $14,255,063.00
FEL FE 0.018 11.1111 -60 $7,472,559.50
KDR KIDMAN RESOURCES 1.425 10.8 -25.1351 $560,644,416.00
INR IONEER 0.15 10.7143 -51.5625 $228,622,448.00
NZC NZURI COPPER 0.21 10.5263 -30 $54,742,516.00
CZR COZIRON RESOURCES 0.011 10 -42.1053 $21,426,616.00
BKT BLACK ROCK MINING 0.073 9.5238 23.2143 $38,772,340.00
SYA SAYONA MINING 0.023 9.5238 -63.4921 $43,031,500.00
MIN MINERAL RESOURCES 17 9.2857 -9.4294 $3,195,461,376.00
AMD ARROW MINERALS 0.014 7.6923 -56.25 $4,403,568.50
BAU BAUXITE RESOURCES 0.08 6.6667 33.3333 $17,153,786.00
RTR RUMBLE RESOURCES 0.045 6.6667 0 $16,780,330.00
TLG TALGA RESOURCES 0.36 5.8824 -47.8261 $81,822,240.00
OMH OM HOLDINGS 1.41 5.6818 27.3596 $1,026,686,464.00
KSN KINGSTON RESOURCES 0.019 5.5556 -9.5238 $22,017,570.00
GED GOLDEN DEEPS 0.039 5.1282 17.1429 $7,026,612.50
POS POSEIDON NICKEL 0.042 5.1282 -4.6512 $108,350,776.00
ARM AURORA MINERALS 0.021 5 -38.2353 $2,459,799.00
WKT WALKABOUT RESOURCES 0.11 4.7619 12.2449 $33,467,472.00
HMX HAMMER METALS 0.023 4.5455 -54 $6,122,536.00
ARU ARAFURA RESOURCES 0.048 4.4444 -51.2927 $34,627,348.00
BAT BATTERY MINERALS 0.023 4.3478 -72.4138 $25,614,446.00
CAZ CAZALY RESOURCES 0.024 4.3478 -40 $5,587,657.50
S32 SOUTH32 3.71 4 4.7126 $18,690,437,120.00
ORE OROCOBRE 3.315 3.7383 -47.4763 $899,673,536.00
RIO RIO TINTO 92.1 3.4258 26.7252 $133,327,994,880.00
CRL COMET RESOURCES 0.032 3.2258 -68 $7,374,400.00
E25 ELEMENT 25 0.165 3.125 -34 $13,854,118.00
COB COBALT BLUE HOLDINGS 0.17 3.0303 -71.9008 $20,557,934.00
FCC FIRST COBALT CORP 0.19 2.7027 -81.1881 $59,381,320.00
A4N COLLERINA COBALT 0.088 2.33 -17.5 $49,900,000.00
SO4 SALT LAKE POTASH 0.455 2.2472 3.4091 $92,821,760.00
EMH EUROPEAN METALS 0.35 1.4493 -28.5714 $46,925,512.00
BEM BLACKEARTH MINERALS 0.081 1.25 -59.5 $4,923,625.50
PAN PANORAMIC RESOURCES 0.4875 1.0417 16.8675 $239,846,064.00
AML AEON METALS 0.29 0 14 $173,303,568.00
AYR ALLOY RESOURCES 0.003 0 -50 $4,731,233.00
AZI ALTA ZINC 0.006 0 -40 $8,213,794.00
ADV ARDIDEN 0.004 0 -80 $6,707,521.00
ARE ARGONAUT RESOURCES 0.026 0 13.0435 $40,413,896.00
AGY ARGOSY MINERALS 0.135 0 -60.2941 $124,672,040.00
ACP AUDALIA RESOURCES 0.009 0 -28.3 $10,700,000.00
ANW AUS TIN MINING 0.015 0 -30.4348 $29,822,562.00
BAR BARRA RESOURCES 0.036 0 -18.1818 $17,783,394.00
BDI BLINA MINERALS 0.001 0 -50 $4,363,882.50
BOA BOADICEA RESOURCES 0.155 0 -29.5455 $8,191,001.50
BYH BRYAH RESOURCES 0.08 0 -38.4615 $4,868,009.50
CAD CAENEUS MINERALS 0.001 0 -66.6667 $14,063,075.00
CFE CAPE LAMBERT RESOURCES 0.016 0 -69.2308 $16,214,425.00
CZI CASSINI RESOURCES 0.083 0 13.6986 $27,295,060.00
CDT CASTLE MINERALS 0.008 0 -60 $1,790,367.75
CMC CHINA MAGNESIUM CORP 0.02 0 -23.0769 $7,048,771.00
CNJ CONICO 0.016 0 -52.9412 $5,628,132.00
CGM COUGAR METALS 0.002 0 -75 $1,955,605.38
DHR DARK HORSE RESOURCES 0.004 0 -80 $8,892,390.00
DTM DART MINING 0.005 0 -43.0199 $4,640,214.00
DEV DEVEX RESOURCES 0.047 0 -49.3535 $4,321,187.00
DGR DGR GLOBAL 0.12 0 36.3636 $73,581,824.00
EUC EUROPEAN COBALT 0.027 0 -70.6522 $19,804,130.00
EUR EUROPEAN LITHIUM 0.09 0 -55 $49,492,940.00
4CE FORCE COMMODITIES 0.011 0 -86.4865 $4,239,158.50
GLN GALAN LITHIUM 0.315 0 125 $36,307,852.00
GPP GREENPOWER ENERGY 0.003 0 -76.9231 $4,696,111.00
GWR GWR GROUP 0.1 0 35.1351 $22,816,570.00
HGM HIGH GRADE METALS 0.009 0 -86.3636 $4,076,440.75
IDA INDIANA RESOURCES 0.054 0 -11.8501 $5,167,087.50
KTA KRAKATOA RESOURCES 0.025 0 -44.4444 $2,937,500.00
LPD LEPIDICO 0.017 0 -66.6667 $53,698,804.00
LTR LIONTOWN RESOURCES 0.024 0 -27.2727 $28,349,686.00
MNS MAGNIS ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES 0.335 0 -14.6341 $207,786,240.00
MZN MARINDI METALS 0.005 0 -54.5455 $9,923,794.00
MLS METALS AUSTRALIA 0.003 0 -50 $7,025,393.50
MEI METEORIC RESOURCES 0.009 0 -79.0698 $5,170,102.00
MTB MOUNT BURGESS MINING 0.005 0 -44.4444 $2,210,397.00
OAR OAKDALERESOURCES 0.023 0 -34.2857 $1,502,766.75
OKR OKAPI RESOURCES 0.225 0 -43.75 $7,727,145.00
ORN ORION MINERALS 0.033 0 -35.5556 $56,212,004.00
PMY PACIFICO MINERALS 0.004 0 -42.8571 $6,585,751.50
PSM PENINSULA MINES 0.004 0 -69.2308 $3,451,488.25
PLL PIEDMONT LITHIUM 0.1 0 -39.3939 $67,038,036.00
PSC PROSPECT RESOURCES 0.022 0 -61.5385 $45,014,528.00
RMX RED MOUNTAIN MINING 0.006 0 -45.4545 $4,668,220.50
RDS REDSTONE RESOURCES 0.016 0 38.5281 $7,535,429.00
RLC REEDY LAGOON CORP 0.006 0 -84.6154 $2,413,630.25
SBR SABRE RESOURCES 0.005 0 -73.6842 $2,034,868.00
SVD SCANDIVANADIUM 0.014 0 -44.7368 $4,926,125.50
SUH SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE MINING 0.031 0 -65.5556 $2,742,553.50
SRK STRIKE RESOURCES 0.046 0 -34.2857 $6,685,376.50
TNO TANDO RESOURCES 0.115 0 105.3333 $23,230,450.00
TKL TRAKA RESOURCES 0.016 0 -72.8814 $5,301,136.50
VML VITAL METALS 0.008 0 -11.1111 $13,940,890.00
VRC VOLT RESOURCES 0.02 0 -40.625 $27,654,086.00
ZEU ZEUS RESOURCES 0.013 0 0 $2,500,000.00
GXY GALAXY RESOURCES 1.965 -0.2525 -35.0329 $823,198,528.00
SYR SYRAH RESOURCES 1.435 -0.3472 -56.383 $506,851,552.00
CLA CELSIUS RESOURCES 0.057 -1.7857 -45 $42,404,212.00
LIT LITHIUM AUSTRALIA 0.084 -2.2727 -50.8571 $39,897,076.00
AUZ AUSTRALIAN MINES 0.042 -2.3256 -53.8462 $118,605,224.00
HIG HIGHLANDS PACIFIC 0.1025 -2.381 31.4103 $112,005,216.00
AXE ARCHER EXPLORATION 0.075 -2.7027 -26.5306 $14,356,735.00
ARL ARDEA RESOURCES 0.51 -2.8571 -59.5238 $53,545,112.00
HAV HAVILAH RESOURCES 0.17 -2.8571 -37.037 $37,102,340.00
CXO CORE LITHIUM 0.058 -3.3898 -12.3077 $39,584,600.00
KOR KORAB RESOURCES 0.027 -3.5714 0 $8,647,967.00
HXG HEXAGON RESOURCES 0.13 -3.7037 -38.0952 $37,931,840.00
AVL AUSTRALIAN VANADIUM 0.024 -3.8462 -34.2105 $49,346,096.00
CHN CHALICE GOLD MINES 0.13 -3.8462 -4.7619 $33,321,016.00
K KIBARAN RESOURCES 0.105 -4.1667 -14.8148 $35,838,524.00
SEI SPECIALITY METALS INTERNATIONAL 0.023 -4.1667 -11.5385 $12,762,158.00
DEG DE GREY MINING 0.11 -4.3478 -8.3333 $48,662,916.00
TNG TNG 0.105 -4.5455 -30 $101,164,080.00
TMT TECHNOLOGY METALS AUSTRALIA 0.315 -4.6154 24 $22,413,866.00
NMT NEOMETALS 0.2 -4.6512 -45.1397 $114,234,600.00
MQR MARQUEE RESOURCES 0.057 -5 -86.0976 $2,436,424.25
MRR MINREX RESOURCES 0.019 -5 -78.6517 $1,821,676.88
SVM SOVEREIGN METALS 0.073 -5.1948 -41.6 $20,213,414.00
NVA NOVA MINERALS 0.019 -5.2632 -55 $14,746,549.00
KRR KING RIVER RESOURCES 0.035 -5.41 -5.41 $43,400,000.00
CUL CULLEN RESOURCES 0.016 -5.5555 -18.1818 $2,880,902.00
HWK HAWKSTONE MINING 0.017 -5.5555 -29.1667 $9,695,406.00
PIO PIONEER RESOURCES 0.017 -5.5555 -37.037 $25,569,906.00
GME GME RESOURCES 0.087 -5.5556 -41.0304 $40,981,920.00
WCN WHITE CLIFF MINERALS 0.01 -5.8824 -87.1323 $3,695,604.75
BGS BIRIMIAN 0.145 -6.0606 -67.3684 $42,033,620.00
ESR ESTRELLA RESOURCES 0.015 -6.25 -25 $6,886,366.00
FGR FIRST GRAPHENE 0.15 -6.25 30.4348 $57,915,060.00
BMT BERKUT MINERALS 0.072 -6.4935 -52 $4,073,750.00
GBE GLOBE METALS AND MINING 0.016 -6.6667 -12.5 $6,988,835.50
IEC INTRA ENERGY 0.014 -6.6667 16.6667 $5,428,136.50
MLM METALLICA MINERALS 0.028 -6.6667 -45.098 $10,673,764.00
MCT METALICITY 0.013 -7.1429 -65.7895 $7,229,565.00
VMC VENUS METALS 0.14 -7.1429 18.1818 $11,766,910.00
PLS PILBARA MINERALS 0.645 -7.2464 -21.4724 $1,142,656,256.00
SGQ ST GEORGE MINING 0.1275 -7.4074 -44.4444 $38,755,108.00
ERX NOVO LITIO 0.06 -7.69 17.65 $27,900,000.00
BPL BROKEN HILL PROSPECTING 0.024 -7.6923 -61.2903 $3,549,201.50
CGN CRATER GOLD MINING 0.012 -7.6923 -33.3333 $19,981,732.00
IRC INTERMIN RESOURCES 0.135 -7.6923 -33.3333 $28,246,616.00
SCI SILVER CITY MINERALS 0.013 -7.6923 -76 $3,818,233.25
THX THUNDELARRA 0.013 -7.6923 -50 $7,753,150.50
EME ENERGY METALS 0.105 -8.6957 5 $22,016,748.00
AEE AURA ENERGY 0.0155 -8.8235 -26.1905 $16,367,769.00
KAI KAIROS MINERALS 0.02 -9.0909 -42.8571 $17,897,730.00
LI3 LITHIUM CONSOLIDATED 0.064 -9.8592 -46.6667 $6,357,548.50
LKE LAKE RESOURCES 0.051 -10 -61.4286 $20,137,798.00
PNN PEPINNINI LITHIUM 0.0045 -10 -87.1429 $3,243,035.00
TON TRITON MINERALS 0.044 -10 -49.4382 $41,721,208.00
AJM ALTURA MINING 0.135 -10.3448 -61.7647 $245,749,472.00
HNR HANNANS 0.008 -11.1111 -63.6364 $15,903,636.00
LCD LATITUDE CONSOLIDATED 0.016 -11.1111 -27.2727 $4,402,864.00
PM1 PURE MINERALS 0.015 -11.7647 -11.7647 $4,715,686.00
WML WOOMERA MINING 0.052 -11.7647 -94 $6,762,266.00
THR THOR MINING 0.021 -12 -69.0141 $15,771,812.00
BSM BASS METALS 0.014 -12.5 -33.3333 $38,660,244.00
CHK COHIBA MINERALS 0.013 -13.3333 30 $8,639,985.00
MTC METALSTECH 0.03 -14.2857 -81.25 $3,508,616.50
N27 NORTHERN COBALT 0.06 -14.2857 -85.3659 $3,181,431.25
TKM TREK METALS 0.006 -14.2857 -79.3103 $1,873,821.63
VMS VENTURE MINERALS 0.018 -14.2857 -47.0588 $9,371,016.00
JRV JERVOIS MINING 0.21 -15.6863 -57.8431 $50,234,172.00
MTH MITHRIL RESOURCES 0.005 -16.6667 -86.4754 $2,111,946.00
SXX SOUTHERN CROSS EXPLORATION 0.005 -16.6667 -37.5 $5,384,216.00
SRN SUREFIRE RESOURCES 0.006 -16.6667 -70.8333 $2,203,268.25
AOU AUROCH MINERALS 0.062 -17.3333 -34.7368 $6,231,219.50
PGM PLATINA RESOURCES 0.061 -17.5676 -49.1667 $15,847,574.00
NWC NEW WORLD COBALT 0.016 -17.6471 -84.9462 $7,721,247.00
LRS LATIN RESOURCES 0.002 -20 -81.8182 $5,818,230.00
SI6 SIX SIGMA METALS 0.004 -20 -66.6667 $1,830,012.63
AVZ AVZ MINERALS 0.039 -22.449 -85.098 $79,315,384.00
RIE RIEDEL RESOURCES 0.012 -25 -84.4156 $5,016,836.50
PUR PURSUIT MINERALS 0.041 -25.9259 -60 $5,855,696.50
NXE MUSTANG RESOURCES 0.035 -30 -84.65 $5,300,000.00
KLH KALIA 0.002 -33.3333 -77.7778 $5,028,695.00