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Cobalt - Statistics & Facts

Cobalt as a free element is a hard, lustrous gray metal. Almost all of cobalt’s land-based deposits are found in combination with nickel or copper. In fact, as of 2020, only about 14 percent of the global cobalt produced was not produced as a by-product of nickel, copper, or platinum group metals. Thus, cobalt production often occurs as a by-product of the copper and nickel mining industries. There are several methods that can be used to separate cobalt from nickel or copper. For example, froth flotation is commonly used, in which a substance is used to bind to different ore components in order to enrich cobalt ores.

Where does the world's cobalt come from?

The global refinery production of cobalt is increasing and has become more common in countries such as China in recent years. However, a large majority of the world’s cobalt mine production occurs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Naturally, the DR Congo, followed by Australia, the world's third-largest cobalt miner, hold a large share of the global cobalt reserves. The Copper Belt in the DR Congo and Zambia is one of the predominant sources of cobalt in the world.

What is cobalt used for?

Cobalt has a wide range of applications and is often used in many industrial processes. As of 2020, cobalt is most commonly used in batteries, followed by alloys, as a material in tools, as a pigment, as well as in catalysts, magnets, and other uses. Cobalt is one of the main metals used in a variety of batteries, and in particular lithium-ion batteries, which are used for everything from cell phones and laptops to electric vehicles. Although it is expensive and is not a strictly necessary component in batteries, cobalt is popular because it increases the life and energy density of batteries. Similarly, by integrating cobalt into a superalloy, the material becomes extremely temperature stable, as well as corrosion and wear-resistant. These materials can then be used in turbine blades for gas turbines and jet aircraft engines, with titanium in orthopedic implants, in prosthetics, and for jewelry.

Cobalt consumption and prices

The global consumption of cobalt has shifted away from the United States and Europe and towards Asia. China alone now accounts for about one-third of the cobalt consumption worldwide, while Europe's and North America's consumption amounted to nearly 23 percent and nearly 18 percent of the global consumption as of 2020, respectively. As of 2021 the U.S. cobalt spot price has stabilized following a peak in 2018, however the global cobalt futures price has been steadily climbing since 2020. As cobalt is largely used in batteries, its future demand is expected to remain linked tightly to the demand for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

Interesting statistics

In the following 7 chapters, you will quickly find the 26 most important statistics relating to "Cobalt".

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