Mining Updates

Cobalt from the DRC: Potentials, Risks and Significance for the Global Markets and the potential of an increase in Canadian Cobalt Production

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 08:40 to 08:59 Theatre 2


U. Naeher (Presenting)
German Federal Bureau for Geosciences and Natural Ressources

S. Vetter
German Federal Bureau for Geosciences and Natural Ressources

While cobalt demand and its relevance for emerging technologies and battery production are continuously increasing, mine supply is currently limited to few countries with the DRC representing the main producer of cobalt ore and China the dominant producer of refined cobalt metal. This constellation implies increasing supply and price risks for cobalt. From 2010 to 2015 global cobalt demand increased from 65,000 t to more than 90,000 t per year. Over the same period the mean compound annual growth rate for cobalt demand was 7.5 % while the demand for cobalt-based chemicals increased at an even steeper
rate of 10.6. It is estimated that by the year 2026 the demand will more than double to 226,000 t.

Additionally, planning the future supply is affected by the fact that the DRC’s cobalt mine production partly originates from artisanal and small scale
mining (ASM) sources, in addition to industrial mines. In recent years, there has been repeated criticism of Child labor and unacceptable working conditions by civil society regarding the circumstances of ASM cobalt production and trade in the DRC. International cobalt supply chain stakeholders sourcing from the DRC were requested to step up their due diligence efforts in order to manage these conditions.

This talk serves to illustrate relevant facts on cobalt production and trade in the DRC on the background of the global cobalt market with a projection up to the year 2026. The possibility of an increased Canadian cobalt production using the examples of several existing and new projects (NICO, Dumont, Raglan, Sudbury, Thompson and Voiseys Bay) is also discussed.