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The world's largest cobalt producing countries in 2021 - report

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(Kitco News) - The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was the world’s largest cobalt producer in 2021, responsible for over 70% of the global mine cobalt supplies. Mine cobalt production in DRC increased by 22.4% to 120,000 tonnes.

According to the preliminary data released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), estimated global mine cobalt production in 2021 was record high at 170,000 tonnes, a 20% increase over 2020 (142,000 tonnes).

USGS said that the increase in global mine cobalt output in 2021 was mainly due to increased production at existing operations, although new production and restarts at suspended operations also contributed to the overall production growth.

Global mine cobalt production, 2010-2021, tonnes. Source: USGS. Preliminary data for 2021.


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With 120,000 tonnes of cobalt produced in 2021, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the world’s largest source of mined cobalt, supplying over 70% of world cobalt mine production. DRC was followed by Russia (7,600 tonnes) and Australia (5,600 tonnes).

USGS added that with the exception of production in Morocco and artisanally mined cobalt in DRC, most cobalt is mined as a by-product of copper or nickel.

Mine cobalt production, tonnes. Source: USGS. Preliminary data for 2021.

According to the report, China was the world’s leading producer of refined cobalt, most of which it produced from partially refined cobalt imported from DRC.

China was also the world’s leading consumer of cobalt, with more than 80% of its consumption being used by the rechargeable battery industry.

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