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Demand for cobalt being powered by boom in electric cars

Prices for the metal, which is an essential element in lithium-ion batteries, surged 50% last year

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Cobalt nuggets from a mine in Zambia. Global demand for the metal exceeded output in 2016 for the first time in seven years and increased purchases by fund managers this year will likely widen the production deficit.

PALA Investments Ltd fund manager Anthony Milewski figures that one of the best payoffs from a global boom in electric vehicles will be a hard, grey metal that so far has drawn little interest from investors. That's why he's stockpiling it.

During the past year, the Switzerland- based

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