10 November 2023
Cobalt: Can't live with it, can't live without it
In this insightful video presentation led by SFA's Energy Transition Technologies and Metals Specialist Kimberly Berman, the focus is on cobalt, a crucial element in battery systems. Kimberly delves into the global significance of cobalt, emphasising its unique properties and the challenges associated with its extraction, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The talk sheds light on ongoing efforts to reduce dependence on cobalt due to humanitarian concerns in the DRC.
SFA's Cobalt Market Outlook to 2027
Kimberly discusses the narrative towards the thriving electric vehicle (EV) market, providing insights into the global production landscape dominated by China and Europe. She highlights the challenges faced by the United States in achieving significant EV uptake, underscoring the necessity for domestic mine production and access to critical minerals. The evolving landscape of battery chemistries, including Tesla's exploration of alternatives like lithium iron phosphate (LFP), is also discussed.
The discussion extends to China's dominance in the global EV production sector, detailing their strategic shift from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. Kimberly explores the expected growth in global EV production and the influence of high-nickel chemistries, particularly in North America.
Tesla's use of cobalt in its battery systems is discussed, acknowledging the company's attempts to reduce its presence. Kimberly emphasises the challenges associated with altering established supply chains and the complexities of mass production. The significance of cobalt in preventing lithium mixing and its role in enhancing battery performance and safety are explored.
Kimberly delves into the global supply situation of cobalt, presenting data on probable projects and potential deficits in the coming years. The impact of geopolitical issues, such as export challenges from the DRC, is discussed, highlighting potential headwinds in the cobalt market.
Kimberly touches on the emergence of cobalt as a by-product of nickel mining in Indonesia, adding a new dimension to global cobalt production. Kimberly underscores the importance of ethical sourcing and environmentally conscious practices in cobalt mining, citing initiatives in South Africa and Zambia.
The spotlight was put on the U.S. and its efforts to secure a domestic supply chain for critical minerals, especially cobalt. Kimberly highlights the disconnect between policy initiatives, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IRA), and the practical challenges faced in securing domestic sources of Cobalt. The importance of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) considerations in the mining industry is discussed, urging a more comprehensive and standardised approach to sustainability. Kimberly advocates for responsible mining practices and investment in research and development to ensure a sustainable transition to electric vehicles.
Energy Transition Technologies
and Metals Specialist
SFA's battery metals market intelligence
SFA produces a quarterly battery metals quarterly market report, keeping you up-to-date with the lithium, nickel, and cobalt markets. The report offers an independent metal price outlook to 2027 with both near-term risks and longer-term drivers of supply and demand.