Electric Vehicles, Aircraft Engines and Renewable Energy

Cobalt is a high strength magnetic metal with a diverse range of important uses in products from rechargeable batteries to aircraft engines, and it is expected to be at the leading edge of the search for alternative and renewable energy systems. This versatile metal has been recognized as strategically important by both the US and European Union has been trading on the London Metal Exchange (LME) since 2010.

Accounting for 73% of global mine production, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the main source of cobalt with refining primarily based in China. Significant cobalt is also mined from nickel-cobalt laterite deposits, which have higher capital and processing costs relative to sulphide deposits.

Battery demand driving growth

Cobalt is critical for manufacturing high performance rechargeable batteries that are used in portable electronics, electric vehicles and stationary power storage applications. In the mid 1990’s, only 1% of cobalt demand was from its use in rechargeable batteries for electronics. However, the growing importance of lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries in smartphones and other electronic devices contributed to the demand for cobalt in rechargeable batteries surpassing its use in superalloys sector for the first time in 2007. Rechargeable batteries have since been the largest end use of cobalt, accounting for 66% of cobalt demand in 2021.

The transformative evolution to electric vehicles and the need for stationary storage of power from renewable sources is anticipated to further boost the demand for cobalt in batteries.

How a lithium-ion battery works: Click for Video

Cobalt sulphate is preferred by many battery manufacturers and can receive a premium price to high grade cobalt metal.

Cobalt & Rechargeable Batteries

Metallic uses include superalloys for the aerospace industry to make power and jet engine turbines, cutting tools and cemented carbides used to machine steel, and electromechanical devices such as magnets, electric motors, generators, transformers and magnetic storage tape and hard disks.

Chemical uses include sulphates for manufacturing rechargeable batteries, catalysts for petroleum refining and to manufacture plastics, and as pigments.

Clean air uses include oil desulfurization, fuel cells, hybrid vehicles, gas/coal to liquid technologies.

Renewable energy uses include solar power, wind turbines, geothermal power plants, gas turbines, conversion of biomass to hydrogen and hydrogen storage.

Health uses include it as a key component of Vitamin B12 which is essential for human health and necessary for neurological function, brain function and the formation of blood. Cobalt is also used in prosthetics, cancer treatments and food preservation.

Information presented in this website was accurate at the time of posting; however, some information may be superseded by subsequent disclosures. The reader is cautioned to review all postings to ensure they are aware of any updated information.

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