Cobalt, an essential raw material for lithium battery, is widely used in electric vehicles as well as computer, communication and consumer electronics. 59% of cobalt was used in lithium battery globally and even up to 77.4% in China in 2017. The cobalt for the battery will see a rising proportion in future, expected to surpass 62% globally and 81% in China in 2023.
Due to an upsurge in the demand from downstream sectors like smartphone and electric vehicle (EV), global cobalt prices has been on the rise since 2016, doubling in 2017 and peaking at USD43.7/pound in late April 2018. Despite a decline in the second quarter of 2018, the cobalt prices are more likely to climb in the future, as the demand remains strong while the supply is limited.
Cobalt metal is derived from cobalt ore and refined cobalt. Nearly 60% of cobalt ore is contributed by Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that promulgated new mining law in March 2018 in which cobalt is classified as strategic metal and windfall profits tax and royalties are planned to be imposed on enterprises. The measures will affect the global supply of cobalt and the price trend.
Nearly 98% of cobalt needs to be imported in China. Chinese enterprises invest in cobalt mines and participate in cobalt smelting projects in Democratic Republic of the Congo so as to obtain stable cobalt resources. For example, China Molybdenum now is the world’s second largest cobalt ore producer, only second to Glencore, by acquiring Freeport cobalt ore resources.
China is a major cobalt smelting country in the world with refined cobalt output of 70kt in 2017, 59.5% of the global total, nearly 80kt in 2018 and estimated over 110kt in 2023. At the same time, the country’s cobalt consumption will increase from 59kt in 2017 to around 98kt in 2023.
Global and China Cobalt Industry Report, 2018-2023 highlights the following:
- Cobalt ore resources distribution, cobalt ore production & smelting, cobalt consumption & structure, price trend, corporate competition, and development trends worldwide;
- Cobalt ore resources distribution, cobalt ore production & smelting, cobalt consumption & structure, price trend, product mix, corporate competition, and development trends in China;
- Import and export of main cobalt products (cobalt concentrate, cobalt chloride, cobalt carbonate, cobalt nitrate, and cobalt oxalate) in China;
- Status quo of and demand for cobalt from the downstream industries (battery, hard alloy, high-temperature alloy, rare-earth permanent magnet);
- Five global and fourteen cobalt producers (operation, cobalt business, development strategy, etc.)