74% of global cobalt mined in 2021 from Congo, Africa

International Business News  –  According to the “Cobalt Market Report” released by the research institute Cobalt Institute, the cobalt market will be worth about $8.4 billion in 2021, an increase of 90% from $4.4 billion in 2020. The global cobalt amount reached 175,000 tons, an increase of 22% year-on-year in 2020, and the increase reached a new high. It is expected that this upward trend will continue in the future. In addition, the supply of cobalt ore in 2021 has grown significantly, increasing by 12% year-on-year to 160,000 tons. Among them, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produced about 118,000 tons of cobalt ore in 2021, accounting for about 74% of the total global production.

From 2015 to 2020, cobalt demand grew at a CAGR of 9.2%, from less than 100,000 tons in 2015 to 143,000 tons in 2020. Demand growth for cobalt slowed to a standstill in 2020 due to the impact of the new crown epidemic. However, as the global economy begins to recover in the post-epidemic era and the lithium battery market maintains rapid growth, the demand for cobalt in 2021 will rise sharply to 175,000 tons, a year-on-year increase of 22.1%. This compares to 31,600 tonnes of demand growth in 2021 alone, and just 50,800 tonnes in the five-year period 2015-20.

The supply of cobalt ore in 2021 increased significantly, up 12% year-on-year to 160,000 tons. Among them, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continued to dominate the supply of cobalt ore by producing about 118,000 tons of cobalt ore in 2021, accounting for about 74% of the global production. The second-ranked producer is Australia, which produces only 5,600 tons, accounting for about 3% of the global supply. Cuba, the Philippines, Russia, Canada and Papua New Guinea will produce even less than 3,000-5,000 tons in 2021, with combined supply accounting for only about 13% of global supply. However, with the increasing supply of cobalt ore from countries such as Indonesia, the United States, New Caledonia and Canada, the market share of cobalt ore from the Democratic Republic of Congo will decline in the coming years, but will still be at a high level of 60%

As the cobalt market price has risen, more and more artisanal and small-scale cobalt miners have emerged in the DRC. In 2021, artisanal and small-scale mining in the DRC will produce approximately 14,500 tonnes, equivalent to 12% of total DRC mining (9% of global supply). This figure is up 45% year-on-year from 10,000 tonnes in 2020, while the average market price of cobalt has also risen by 22.8%.

Demand for cobalt is expected to continue to rise rapidly as part of the global energy transition and shift to electric vehicles. In the next five years, the demand is expected to increase from 175,000 tons in 2021 to nearly 320,000 tons, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.7%. In terms of price, it is expected to adjust slightly in the short term, and the price will continue to rise in the long term. As prices continue to rise in the future, more artisanal and small-scale cobalt mined in the DRC is expected to take up a larger share of the DRC and global mine supply.