Global cobalt production fell 3% in 2020
(Kitco News) - Cobalt is the key metal of emerging green energy industry. The industry experts say that cobalt demand from nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) batteries used in EVs will likely increase from approximately 20,000 tonnes in 2019 to over 730,000 tonnes in 2040, a whopping 37x jump.
On the supply side, according to the preliminary data released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), global mine cobalt production was 140,000 tonnes in 2020, a 3% decline compared to 2019 (144,000 tonnes).
USGS said that increased production from recently started operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was more than offset by reduced
production at other operations in response to low prices and restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
DRC continued to be the world’s leading source of mined cobalt, supplying approximately 70% of world cobalt mine production. With the exception of production in Morocco and artisanally mined cobalt in DRC, most cobalt is mined as a byproduct of copper or nickel.
USGS noted that China was the world’s leading producer of refined cobalt, most of which was produced from partially refined cobalt imported from DRC. China was the world’s leading consumer of cobalt, with more than 80% of its consumption being used by the rechargeable battery industry.