June 10, 2021: The boom in battery demand from electric vehicles and stationary storage applications has caused a surge in battery metals prices and with them, a need for metals traders, Reuters reported on June 2.
Proco Commodities, a recruitment firm, recorded 50% more metal trading moves in the first five months of 2021 compared with last year, and said demand for metals traders ‘has grown exponentially through 2021’.
“The war for metal trading talent in the current market is fierce,” said Proco director Ross Gregory.
Reuters said commodity trader Trafigura had set up a special business development unit for non-ferrous metals such as copper and aluminium, and restructured its metals trading unit into the four books of lead and zinc, nickel and cobalt, aluminium and copper.
The news agency said hedge funds that do not typically hire specialist metal traders were poaching them from traders and merchants — for example BlueCrest Capital Management, which had hired its first metals-focused traders for the fund.
With the number of potential battery gigafactories numbering 211 across the globe at the moment, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, the vast majority in Asia, demand for battery metals is only going to rise.
While there are probably enough of them in the ground, getting them into the factories is a looming headache for manufacturers, who will have to solve problems such as erratic supply chains, using cobalt from the DRC and China’s monopoly of certain materials, such as refined graphite, says Richard Herrington, head of the Earth Sciences Department at the Natural History Museum in London.