The Cobalt Market

SFA's involvement in the cobalt industry goes back over ten years, having assisted mining companies, battery cathode manufacturers and investors in evaluating mine projects, the market and prices. Our work has even taken us to the Katanga Province in the DRC to evaluate one of the richest cobalt deposits in the world. 

Future Potential Cobalt Supply

Cobalt is primarily mined as a by-product from the extraction of copper and nickel ores. Copper ores are the main source of cobalt, primarily from the DRC, Russia and Zambia. Primary cobalt mines make up a very small percentage of supply. Further downstream, China has the world's largest cobalt refining capacity. 

SFA's evaluation of copper-cobalt mines in the DRC gives us a unique understanding of the potential outlook for cobalt supply going forward. Currently, the country provides almost two-thirds of global mine output and with Glencore's Katanga mine coming back on line, the country is set to become even more critical to future supplies of cobalt. 

Our Cobalt Market report details future potential cobalt supply by mine, country and major company and includes the distribution of reserves and resources worldwide. An overview of the supply and processing methods is also provided under reviews of copper and nickel mines. 

A detailed review of operations and projects in the DRC is also included with potential supply constraints and sociological challenges related to artisanal supply and political risks. 

The report also evaluates the trade flow of cobalt concentrates globally and gives an assessment of China's position in the global supply chain.

Additionally, a global review of highly probable and possible projects, including grade and volume analysis, is provided. 

The need for and current status of cobalt recycling is also discussed. The rapid rise in cobalt prices and concerns over future mine supplies of cobalt have led to a greater focus on the recycling of cobalt. Our report delves into the current status of the cobalt recycling industry, its major players and market developments. 

Electric Vehicles: Cobalt Market Implications

SFA's report contains a full review of cobalt use in lithium-ion batteries, including the growing popularity of NMC (and NCA) battery chemistries. A quantification of the substitution by nickel going forward against the increasing uptake of electric cars and the fall-out for the cobalt market is provided. 

The report offers upside and downside electric vehicle uptake scenarios to illustrate the potential envelope of supply-demand, and therefore price possibilities in future. 

SFA's long history in the platinum-group metals has required us to have an ongoing detailed modelling of the risks associated with powertrain evolution, so the cobalt market report also reviews loadings of cobalt by vehicle model and powertrain type, including the use of NiMH batteries in hybrid vehicles.  

Other end-uses including battery types (NiCd and NiMH) ware presented and quantified, along with a review of superalloy cobalt requirements and other industrial applications. 

Our report concludes with a range of supply-demand outlooks and price forecasts to highlight where potential pinch points for the market might occur in future, including supply risks, electric vehicle scenarios, substitution and recycling potential. 

Who Should Read This Report
  • End-users and fabricators in need of an independent supply, demand and pricing picture of the cobalt market and its evolving applications and the fall-out from electric vehicle uptake. 
  • Producers and fabricators requiring an independent review of end-use evolution, including opportunities, threats and substitutes, as well as an understanding of price risks.
  • Investors seeking an independent view on the outlook for the cobalt market and prices.

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