Dissecting the world's largest producer of cobalt (2023)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the undisputed leader among the largest cobalt producers in the world, with more than 70% of global production in 2019.

Dissecting the world's largest producer of cobalt (1)

Aerial view of the Murrin nickel-cobalt plant in Murrin, Australia (Credit: Minara Resources/Glencore)

The world's largest producer of cobalt is securing an increasingly important resource as efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through deep electrification accelerate.

The silvery blue metal is used to make many kinds of electronics, but perhaps most importantly as an ingredient in the rechargeable batteries used to power the rapidly growing electric vehicle (EV) fleet.

It was first discovered in 1739 by the Swedish chemist and mineralogist Georg Brandt, and got its name from the German word "kobald", meaning goblin.

accordingData from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), about 140,000 metric tons of cobalt were produced worldwide in 2019, more than 70% of which came from one country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa.

Cobalt is usually mined as a by-product of copper or nickel, although small-scale artisanal mining has become an increasingly common extraction method, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Worldwide, it is estimated at 7 million tons.Measured Cobalt Reserves, more than half of which are in African countries.

Here, NS Energy profiles the eight largest cobalt producers in the world as of 2019.

The world's largest producer of cobalt

1. Democratic Republic of the Congo - 100,000 tons

Congo accounted for more than 70% of the total world cobalt production in 2019, totaling around 100,000 tonnes.

Many of the world's largest mining companies have started operations in the country, trying to ensure the supply of increasingly demanded goods.

Katanga province is a particularly productive region, home to some of the world's largest cobalt mines, including Mutanda, Kamoto, Etoile and Ruashi.

However, a significant artisanal mining industry has also flourished in recent years due to increasing demand for the metal. ANDreportThe World Economic Forum estimates that small-scale mining accounts for between 15% and 30% of total cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

There are several examples of dangerous working conditions, human rights abuses, including child labor, and environmental damage associated with Congolese cobalt, prompting initiatives by many of the largest companies that rely on the country's supply chains to promote higher ethical standards.

China, the world's largest consumer of metals, hasEstablished control over the cobalt trade in the country., driven by its desire to lead the world in the production of batteries for electric vehicles.

2. Russia - 6100 tons

Russia lags far behind in controlling production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, producing 6,100 tonnes of cobalt in 2019, around 4% of the global quota.

Cobalt reserves in the country are estimated at 250,000 tons and mining activity is concentrated in the region of the Altai Republic.

The region is home to the Karakul deposit, which is considered one of Russia's largest sources of cobalt and has spawned a number of nearby "sister" mines: Kuruozek, Yantau, Toshtuozek and Olendzhular.

Diversified Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel (or Nornickel) is the country's largest producer.

The Gulinskoye nickel-cobalt project, the Norilsk-1 project, the Maslovskoe project and the Kingashsky project are other Russian companies that have entered the exploration phase.

The country is reportedly looking to increase its cobalt production capacity in the coming years and has explored the possibility of extracting cobalt deposits in the western Pacific through deep-sea mining in the future.

3. Australia - 5100 tons

Rounding out the list of top cobalt producers is Australia, which increased production to 5,100 tonnes in 2019 from 4,880 tonnes the previous year.

The country accounts for about 3.6 percent of world production, but with known reserves totaling 1.2 million tons, according to the USGS, second only to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country has the capacity to sustain higher levels in the coming years if enough is invested. it's done, production levels are close.

In 2020, the Australian government established the Critical Minerals Promotion Office to boost mining, including cobalt, and recently released a report highlighting a number of key metals-related projects that could support future production growth. .

Glencore's Murrin-Murrin mine in the north-eastern goldfields of Western Australia is currently the largest single cobalt mine in the country.

4. Philippines - 4600 tons

The Philippines produced 4,600 tons of cobalt in 2019, the same as the previous year, representing about 3.3% of the world quota.

The country has the fourth largest known reserves of cobalt in the world, with a total of 260,000 tons.

The Adlay-Cagdianao-Tandawa project, owned by CTP Construcción y Minería, is located in Tubebe, Agusan Norte.

Other major cobalt mines in the country include the Coral Bay project in Bataraza and the Palawan and Santa Cruz cobalt-nickel projects in Santa Cruz, Zambales province.

Zambales, Alpha, Botolan and Agata North are the four cobalt projects that are currently in the exploration phase, while Mindoro and Acoje are in the feasibility phase.

5. Kuba - 3500 tons

The island of Cuba ranks fifth in the ranking of the world's largest cobalt producers, with a global share of 2.5%, producing 3,500 tons in 2019.

The country has the third largest known reserves of the metal at 500,000 tonnes, most of which is in the Moa region in the east of the country and is mined in conjunction with nickel mining operations.

A joint venture between Canadian miner Sherritt International and Cuba's General Nickel produces the metal by strip mining in the Moa region, which is shipped to Canada for refining at a plant in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

Dissecting the world's largest producer of cobalt (2)

6. Madagascar - 3300 tons

Madagascar produced 3,300 tons of cobalt in 2019, about 2.4% of the world total.

The small island nation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa has 120,000 tons of cobalt reserves.

The country's mining industry revolves around the $8 billion Ambatovy nickel-cobalt project, a partnership between Japanese trading house Sumitomo and Korea Resources.

The Ambatovy project is the largest foreign investment in Madagascar and has made significant exports of nickel and cobalt from the country. The ore is extracted from two deposits, Ambatovy and Analamay, and transported via mud pipelines to a refinery 220 kilometers away.

7. Papua New Guinea - 3,100 tons

Papua New Guinea, in the southwestern Pacific, produced 2.2% of the world's cobalt supply in 2019, or about 3,100 tonnes.

The country has a relatively small part of the world's reserves, estimated at 56,000 tons of the metal.

The Ramu nickel-cobalt mine in Madang province, a joint venture between China Metallurgical Industry Corporation and Canada's Nickel 28 (formerly Conic Metals), is the main source of activity in the country.

Another nickel/cobalt project in Papua New Guinea, called Mambare, is in the early stages of approval.

8. Canada - 3000 tons

Canadian cobalt production fell by almost 15% in 2019 to a total of 3,000 tons.

Despite being the eighth largest producer of cobalt, it has significant reserves of 230,000 tons, indicating the potential for further mining activity.

Majors Glencore and Vale operate significant projects in the country, including the Voisey's Bay, Raglan, Thompson and Fraser mines.

There is growing interest in the potential of Canadian cobalt as an electronics manufacturer in North America.Find the metal supply chainThe dominance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and China in production and processing can be circumvented.


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