Goldman Sachs predicts price drop for key battery metals like cobalt, nickel, and lithium

Prices for key battery materials may have been rising as of late, but Goldman Sachs believes that some price drops are in order. The prediction was outlined by Goldman analysts Nicholas Snowdon and Aditi Rai in a note on Sunday. 

“Investors are fully aware that battery metals will play a crucial role in the 21st-century global economy. Yet despite this exponential demand profile, we see the battery metals bull market as over for now,” the analysts wrote. 

The analysts noted that important battery components such as cobalt, lithium, and nickel would likely drop over the next two years. While long-term prospects for battery metals are still strong due to the growing electric vehicle sector, the Goldman analysts noted that investor exuberance has led to an oversupply. 

The analysts noted that there has been a “surge in investor capital into supply investment tied to the long term EV demand story, essentially trading a spot driven commodity as a forward-looking equity.” This has resulted in a “fundamental mispricing” that has, in turn, “generated an outsized supply response well ahead of the demand trend,” according to a BNN Bloomberg report.

The Goldman analysts predict that cobalt will likely drop to an average of $59,500 a ton about a year from now, down from about $80,000 today. Nickel is predicted to rise nearly 20% over the rest of this year to $36,500 a ton, but the analysts predict that “fundamental pressures” will be driving the price of the material lower after. 

Lithium, on the other hand, is expected to see a “sharp correction,” with the metal averaging less than $54,000 per ton this year, down from a spot price of more than $60,000. The analysts expect lithium to fall to an average of just over $16,000 in 2023. Despite their predictions, however, the Goldman analysts believe that prices could soar again after 2024. 

“This phase of oversupply will ultimately sow the seeds of the battery materials super cycle over the second half of this decade.” After this, the “demand surge will more sustainably overcome current supply growth,” the analysts noted. 

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