Bullish Cobalt 27 chief ready to turbocharge Swiss summit

Speaking to Mining Journal ahead of the 2018 Precious & Battery Metals Summit in Zurich, Cobalt 27 CEO Anthony Milewski painted a robust picture for the metal used in batteries that power electric vehicles - despite price falls this year on trade war worries and a slowdown in China.

Richard Wachman in London
Bullish Cobalt 27 chief ready to turbocharge Swiss summit

The head of the Toronto-headquartered royalties and streaming business that focuses on nickel as well as cobalt, suggested battery and EV metals were relatively insulated on the demand side as more than half of the EV market was in China which "come what may" was determined to become the global hub of "the EV revolution".

A recent Morgan Stanley report has forecast that global car sales would rise 50% by 2050, with EVs accounting for most of that total.

Milewski will tell the Zurich forum: "I have not seen an estimate by any major bank that hasn't been exceeded, so demand is incredibly strong."

He will also say that EVs are approaching "cost-parity" with gasoline-powered cars, assuming comparison of similar models. "In China, you can buy an EV which is as cheap as US$6,000," he said.

Referring to Cobalt 27's stock price that has fallen this year on the Toronto exchange, he said: "The inherent value of our stock is that the net present value of our assets is probably double where we are today. In other words, we are trading at about a 50% discount to our net asset value."

Milewski will tell the Zurich forum that a global certification body should be set up to ensure the ethical sourcing of cobalt.

He said: "One of the biggest challenges for the industry today is ensuring cobalt sources are ethical. Certification is vital as there is a real possibility that unethically-acquired metal has crept into the supply chain."

Most cobalt reserves are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where chronic instability has already had repercussions for corporate governance. The London Metal Exchange has been investigating whether cobalt mined by child labour has been traded on its platform. It is now drawing up plans to allow it to clamp down on cobalt brands on its approved list thought to be tainted by human rights abuses.

Milewski said nickel was a big story, too. Wood Mackenzie has forecast the boom in EVs will bring a structural shortage in the nickel market between now and 2025 —with demand expected to grow from 40,000 tonnes to 220,000 tonnes in 2025.

The Cobalt 27 chief acknowledged recent setbacks in metals markets and mining equity prices.

"One key point to make is that no-one really controls what happens in capital markets, but demand for EVs is accelerating faster than many projections.

"I can't call when people will become interested in equities again, but I can say demand ultimately sets the stage for the next sequence of growth."


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