Put COBAF at the top of your WATCHLIST!
You will be thanking us later. Getting a position at these prices could your golden ticket.
Remember the first investment story you read about the coming lithium boom? For me, it was more than five years ago. Some lithium mining stocks have done well over that timeframe. For others, the age of electric cars and smart phones has been more fizzle than spark.
Don’t misunderstand, we love the RIGHT lithium stock at the right time. But with close to 200 copycats hoping Elon Musk will notice them and buy their brine for Tesla batteries, there’s a lot of “me too” action crowding that pool.
Especially because all the gadgets and cars that run on lithium need ANOTHER key natural resource in order to boost their battery power. And where the race to exploit lithium deposits has gone a long way toward filling that supply/demand gap, this other mineral fell behind.
We’re talking about COBALT (OTCMKTS – COBAF). You “only” need about 35 pounds of this once-obscure rock to light up a 75 kWh Tesla. Apple only needs 10 grams per iPhone, about a third of an ounce. But with 1.2 BILLION of those little phones in circulation and Elon Musk ramping up those “giga factories,” the miners haven’t kept up.
Throw in new technology that uses more cobalt than ever . . . plus shadows on the global trade situation . . . and people who invest in cobalt now could be where the first wave of lithium bulls were a few months ago: staring at TRIPLE digit performance!
Sometime when you’re feeling like there’s nothing left in the market but the “FANG,” load up the Albermarle 5-year chart, ALB. They’re the biggest lithium producer around. Then turn to a cobalt stock that’s tiny right now, International Cobalt (OTC:COBAF).
Unless you’ve got a time machine and can go back to 2013, which one’s on the ground floor? The $10 billion behemoth trading above $90 or the $35 million start-up currently priced at pocket change?
But before you answer, remember: down here in the start-up zone, every $1 isn’t just another little bump in the long-term trend. It’s a multiplier, unlocking truly massive return potential for those with the insight to come to the cobalt party BEFORE the me-too money crowds the table.
Can COBAF reach the lofty heights ALB now travels? Let’s set cobalt’s future against lithium’s recent past . . . and then you can probably come up with your own answer.
Cobalt used to be an obscure element (like lithium was 10 years ago), more famous for making a pretty blue when powdered or a higher-temperature steel in trace amounts. Thanks to the emergence of new power storage systems, both elements are now irreplaceable components of phone batteries, laptops, home power systems and yes, electric cars.
HALF of all cobalt that gets consumed right now goes into batteries. That wasn’t true before the high-tech world switched to lithium-cobalt power systems, which means that since the iPhone revolution started and Tesla made its first car demand here has at least DOUBLED.
That’s why smart players are already rolling up as many cobalt prospects as they can. Just a few weeks ago First Cobalt paid $115 million to buy out US Cobalt. That’s a good number to keep in mind as cobalt consolidation heats up. For one thing, the bid came in 65% above market price, so the deal premiums are already getting huge as the fever kicks in.
And I did the math: historical work on US Cobalt’s primary project showed 1.2 million tons of high-grade cobalt ore grading at maybe 0.6% per ton. That’s roughly 7,500 tons of cobalt in that dirt . . . First Cobalt paid $15,000 per ton, so that’s a benchmark to keep in the back of your mind.
There’s just not enough cobalt
Global supply has not kept up. Go back to 2010, the experts were already warning Congress that U.S. stockpiles had gotten so thin that they would only satisfy 1.7 DAYS of demand. Nobody listened! Since then, gurus think consumption has soared 75% in less than a decade . . . and the strategic government stockpile has shrunk 33%.
Long term, there’s plenty of cobalt in the ground. Recycling is coming. But it just isn’t ENOUGH to fill the demand gap. And in the meantime, new mines like what International Cobalt is exploring for are the sweet spot.
That’s especially true when you look at geography and politics. U.S. cobalt production was dead until 2014, when one mine finally stepped up to address 0.8% of annual demand. Not counting scrap, all our cobalt came from overseas.
The GOOD news is Canada now sells us almost as much cobalt as China does. The BAD news (unless you have cobalt or are invested in a company that is) is that U.S. production actually went DOWN recently, so the gap didn’t narrow.
And even though Canada is one of our oldest and dearest friends, it’s hard to say where the trade rules end up. The trade situation with China is cloudier than it’s been in decades. What’s a 25% tariff on Chinese cobalt going to do, if the White House treats it like other metals?
It’s going to hurt, the commodity kings at Glencore say. Elon Musk wants to source his cobalt from “clean” mines that don’t use child labor or wreck the environment. That rules out traditional producers in the Congo, where conditions get brutal. (VIDEO) Apple, similar story.
By the way, the great Elon Musk had a weird little freakout over cobalt in a recent quarterly conference call . . . fast-forward a year or two, we really need to think about cell production as being a constraint. Making sure that we have a secure supplies of lithium hydroxide, cobalt. There’s actually more amount of cobalt.
He’s talking about how Tesla is running out of secure supplies of cobalt because the company’s power cells use more of it than lithium. Notice how the investor relations guy cuts him off FAST after that. “Sorry everyone, we’re out of time” like he doesn’t want the supply constraint to scare shareholders.
But before it does, it’s a good bet that Tesla and everyone else is going to scramble for as much cobalt as they can. That might mean long-term supply contracts with mines that aren’t even open yet . . . mines like the one International Cobalt is exploring for up in friendly Idaho, right here in the USA. It might mean joint ventures, kicking in funding to make the mines happen.
Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the great Elon go the Henry Ford route and buy the mines himself! In that scenario, investors are on the accelerated “exit” ramp!
But here’s the thing: Elon would mainly be interested in pure cobalt plays. That’s the mineral he covets. He doesn’t want copper . . . even though a lot of cobalt mining today is just a sideshow, a byproduct on copper. What’s he going to do, skim the cobalt and throw the copper away?
And while some cobalt comes off of nickel, that’s a secondary concern as well. Refining nickel ore is, and I quote, “horrendously” expensive. Waiting for a start-up company to take a primary nickel project to a viable economic level is basically bracing for massive investment in time and money. While the path can ultimately be satisfying, it just isn’t easy or quick.
Tesla doesn’t have that kind of time. Arguably they don’t even have that kind of cash to deploy, especially if there’s a relatively pure play available. That’s where International Cobalt shines. Pure play. Right here on the Idaho side of the international border. Dozens of what could be high-grade ore lodes.
I suspect we’ll be talking a lot about the geology as the company starts serious drilling. They’re just waiting for the permits. Right now, they’ve flown over the site and the visuals are worth pursuing . . . this airborne survey has given the company multiple targets to follow up on!
It’s a big claim, more than 1,700 acres. It’s surrounded by bigger players who might get motivated to take out a rival at a healthy premium. (No shame in that! Remember that $115 million US Cobalt buyout? Those assets are just south of International Cobalt’s Blackbird Creek acreage.)
Either way, right now it’s almost total upside. All the big boys on Wall Street know about this company right now is that there’s interesting rock here. They don’t know how much or where the future can go.
That’s the kind of opportunity that’s like getting into lithium five years early. It may not be gold, but it’s precious. Let’s go!
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