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Aurex Insights: APAC Bulk – Dec 2021

Welcome to Aurex Group's Asia monthly snapshot for metals and bulks commodities, highlighting some of the factors and events influencing the industry for businesses and talent. In this issue, our specialists look the looming supply chain crunch and what this means for EV and ESS buyers.

What people are talking about

Trafigura CEO Jeremy Weir has said at the Reuters Summit that we may see “significant deficits for cobalt, nickel, and copper as global demand rises for EV batteries and renewable energy,” and has warned that after Chinese New Year we may have a “critical situation” with respect to copper prices. How will this affect the traders in the market, who will be the winners/losers at the end of the year? 

Alex Beard; former Global Head of Oil at Glencore, has returned to the market to bet on the green batteries market through Adaptogen Capital plus has co-sponsored a USD 205million SPAC called Energy Transition Partners. There are other “blank cheque” companies starting up to invest in greener assets, the question remains whether this is a flash in the pan approach or will have longevity. 

Following the “green” trend, we have seen renewed interest from clients in more environmentally friendly building material products such as fly ash and slag. Niche products with their own challenges around logistics, are we going to see news players in the traditional producer-dominated market? 

More and more carbon/environmental products companies and desks have been launched in Singapore with the talent pool available ever-shrinking and those that have not moved yet have seen their price tags go up exponentially. For these companies late to the hiring party will we see more people move into these products.

What we are currently working on

  • Junior Trader – Metals, Singapore

  • Carbon Originator Singapore

  • Finance and Market Risk Manager, Singapore

  • South East Asia Steel Trader, Singapore

  • Senior Base Metals (Cu or Ali) Trader, Shanghai

  • Steel Derivatives Trader, Shanghai

  • Senior Credit Manager, Singapore

  • Trade Finance Manager (Metals), Singapore

  • Biofuels Trader, Singapore

  • Soft Commodities Trader, Beijing

  • Cementitious Products Trader, Singapore

  • Soybean Trader, Guangzhou

  • Sugar Trader, Shanghai / Guangzhou

If you are interested in any of these roles, please reach out to us via the contact details at the end of this newsletter. 

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Boo-hoo-hoo Cried Cindy Lou Who along with all the EV and ESS buyers

We have all been hearing about the looming supply chain crunch with hundreds of container ships stuck in some of the world’s largest ports while unable to unload, and the media warning that we should all start buying Christmas presents now as there are not enough shipping containers to meet demand in the coming months. But, did you know that the same challenges that might make Cindy Lou Who cry boo-hoo-hoo when her made-in-China toys do not arrive in time might make battery storage investors and project developers boo-hoo too?

Currently, Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co., based in China, is the world’s largest lithium metal producer in the world and Tiangqi Lithium, also headquartered in China is the #3 producer. Together, these two companies comprise a significant amount of the global lithium production, over 25% of the world’s raw lithium, while Chinese companies account for more than 80% of the world’s battery materials as a whole including cobalt and graphite according to Mining.com and manufacturing.

Although lithium prices were on a steep decline from 2018 to the end of 2020, dropping from-

$16,500 to $6,124 per ton last December, prices have rebounded in 2021, reaching a new record high in October 2021 of $28,690. While this is great for mining companies, it has made the production of electric vehicles and ESS systems more costly.

At the same time, the container freight cost index has shown shipping costs have increased 734% since the start of the pandemic from $1,331 in March 2020 to $11,104 in September 2021 based on the spot rate for a 40-foot shipping container.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (BMI) is predicting an acute shortage of lithium from 2022 onwards. This comes from projections of increased demand for both electric vehicles, which are projected to triple over the next 5 years, as well as for large-scale energy storage systems (ESS) which are estimated to reach 5,000GW by 2030 according to ESS InfoLink. There has also been no notable investment into additional large-scale mining capabilities for lithium in 2021. 

With so much price volatility as well as shipping delays, it is no wonder why renewable energy developers are shying away from lithium-ion.

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Market Moves

  • Kevin Mao has joined Freepoint Commodities in Singapore, previously an Iron Ore Trader at ECTP.

  • Mark Ma has started at Goldman Sachs as a Metals and Bulks Derivatives Trader, previously trading Ferrous Derivatives at Cargill in Shanghai.

  • Albert Lim has joined Natixis as Relationship Manager, Previously at DBS in a similar role.

  • David Leong has joined LItasco as Trade and Structured Finance Manager, previously in a Commodity Finance role at ING.

  • Ruonan Wei has joined South Pole as a Senior Carbon Procurement Manager, previously a Coking Coal and Coke Trader at Noble Group.

  • Vikash Tharad has joined Trafigura in India as an Iron Ore Trader, previously in a similar role at Fomento.

  • Wang Garin has joined Gerald Metals in Singapore as a Copper Concentrates Trader, previously in a Similar role at China Copper.

  • Balaji Krishnamurthi has left SSOE in Shanghai as Assistant General Manager – Iron Ore Trading.

I hope you enjoy our latest market insight for metals and bulks commodities. For a discussion around recent mandates, compensation, or other hiring trends, please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

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Alex Kerr
Director

Aurex Singapore Pte Ltd

alex@aurexgroup.com | +65 9007 2185

12 Marina View, #11-01 Asia Square Tower 2, Singapore 018961

EA 18S9493 | R1328009