LONDON – The London Metal Exchange (LME) on Tuesday suspended listing fees for new cobalt brands for six months to encourage interest from producers of the element widely used in rechargeable batteries.
The LME, the oldest and largest market for industrial metals, launched a cash-settled cobalt contract on March 11 in addition to its physically settled offering to allow users more flexibility.
The exchange is seeking to capitalise on expected rising demand for cobalt, given its uses in electric cars. The LME also has a new lithium contract scheduled for launch later this year.
There was still market interest in the price generated by the physical contract versus the benchmark used in the cash contract, the LME said in a statement.
Cobalt producers complained that paying to list their brands on the LME's physically settled contract would be a poor investment if the new cash-settled contract sapped liquidity, the exchange said.
"Accordingly, the LME will waive brand listing fees for prospective producers, effective for all producers submitting an application within six months of the date of this notice," the LME said.
The LME also launched six other cash-settled contracts this month, including hot-rolled coil steel, alumina and molybdenum.
Volumes for the LME's physically settled contract fell 9 percent last year, with periods of wide disconnect between LME pricing and the assessments of Fastmarkets, the price-reporting agency for the new contract.
The LME warned that all brands wishing to list on the exchange would be subject to responsible sourcing requirements once announced and enforced.