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The hottest thing in the markets right now is an obscure metal mined in DR Congo


The financial markets have an unlikely new hero. In recent months, the best way to make a serious amount of money in a short amount of time has been to buy cobalt. The price per ton of the metal has soared by almost 70% already this year, driven by a near-insatiable demand for rechargeable batteries and the growing popularity of electric cars.

Cobalt is a key ingredient used in lithium-ion batteries that power everything from Apple products to Tesla cars. As it happens, the great cobalt boom of 2017 follows a bumper year for lithium, which rose by around 80% in price in 2016.

Bullish investors have pushed Tesla and Apple stock to record highs, but a steady supply of cobalt will be crucial to making their plans a reality. In part, fears about cobalt’s scarcity are behind the metal’s recent price surge. Cobalt is hard to get a hold of, and the market remains relatively small—93,000 metric tons were produced in 2016.


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