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Cobalt: mineral reserves, batteries and technology

Cobalt is primarily used in lithium-ion batteries, besides in the manufacture of magnets and high-strength alloys.


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) currently produces 63% of the world's cobalt. This market share may reach 73% by 2025. By 2030, global demand could be 47 times more than it was in 2017, according to Bloomberg. According to Statista in terms of reserves, DRC also has the largest cobalt reserves in the world, at some 3.5 million metric tons as of 2021. As the total global cobalt reserves amount to 7.6 million metric tons. This means nearly half of the world’s reserves of the metal. Australia, in second place, holds an impressive 1.4 million metric tons of the global cobalt reserves.


In spite of mining companies, together with car and battery manufacturers, adopting ESG initiatives in line with OECD Guidance and initiatives such as the Responsible Cobalt Initiative and Cobalt for Development this situation puts cobalt in the high critical minerals ranking of several countries, including the United States, Japan, Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the European Union.


To mitigate this and possible market volatility, there is quite a lot of technological efforts towards reducing the need for cobalt in the lithium-ion batteries.


Last year, researchers in United States have figured out a way to build those batteries without using cobalt at all. Technically speaking, a cobalt-free cathode for lithium-ion batteries. The joint effort was was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and involved researchers from University of California, Irvine (UCI) and four other high tech laboratories.


According to the co-resercher Huolin Xin, UCI professor of physics & astronomy, “Electric vehicle manufacturers are eager to curtail the use of cobalt in their battery packs not only for cost reduction but to counter the child labor practices used to mine the mineral ... Research has also shown that cobalt can lead to oxygen release at high voltage, causing damage to lithium-ion batteries. All of this points to a need for alternatives.”


Let's keep forests and carbon credits but not forget the vanguard of technological developments. Click on the image below if interested in accessing the technical paper. By the way, it opens more options for easier recycling when time comes.




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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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