The world's largest cobalt reserves by country in 2022
(Kitco News) - According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the total global mine cobalt reserves amounted to 8,300,000 tonnes in 2022, which is 9% higher than 7,600,000 tonnes reported in 2021.
USGS defines recoverable mine reserves (not to be confused with resources) as the part of the reserve base that could be economically extracted or produced at the time of determination.
According to the report, the DR Congo boasts the world's largest endowment of cobalt mine reserves (4,000,000 tonnes), followed by Australia (1,500,000 tonnes) and Indonesia (600,000 tonnes).
This means that the DR Congo's cobalt reserves account for nearly half (~48%) of the world's total cobalt mine reserves.
As Kitco reported previously, the DR Congo is also the world’s largest cobalt mine producer with 130,000 tonnes of cobalt produced in 2022, or ~68% of total mined cobalt.
Global cobalt mine reserves by country in 2022, tonnes. Source: USGS, preliminary estimate.
Furthermore, USGS said that identified world terrestrial cobalt resources are estimated at about 25 million tonnes.
The vast majority of these resources are in sediment-hosted stratiform copper deposits in the DR Congo and Zambia; nickel-bearing laterite deposits in Australia and nearby island countries and Cuba; and magmatic nickel-copper sulfide deposits hosted in mafic and ultramafic rocks in Australia, Canada, Russia, and the United States.
USGS noted that in addition, more than 120 million tonnes of cobalt resources have been identified in polymetallic nodules and crusts on the floor of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.
Cobalt is a metal critical to the global energy transition. One of cobalt's main applications at the present time is in rechargeable batteries of various types.
While potentially commercially available cobalt-free substitutes do exist, depending on the application, cobalt substitution could result in a loss in product performance or an increase in cost.
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