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Tesla's run on cobalt will be phenomenal on its own: the battery industry uses 42 percent of global cobalt production, while the rest is used in industrial and military applications, and all are competing for supply.
Apple is another company that could suffer from a cobalt shortage. Still, in April Apple stopped buying cobalt mined by hand in Congo following reports of child labor and dangerous work conditions there.
Currently, more than half of the world's supply of cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Use of child workers in appalling conditions in the DRC means that difficult supply chain questions are starting to be asked. Apple and Tesla will not be able to ignore the awkward questions they are being asked about their supply chains. Generally speaking, their cobalt is not ethically sourced, according to OilPrice.com.
TechCrunch has reported that approximately 97 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt comes as a byproduct of nickel or copper, mostly out of Africa. However, there is hope for manufacturers that need sustainably sourced cobalt. U.S. Cobalt (formerly Scientific Metals) is buying cobalt property Iron Creek in the Idaho Cobalt Belt — one of the most prolific cobalt mineralization areas in the U.S. — and will be one of the two pure-play cobalt companies in the U.S.
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