A pipeline of projects is looming in places including Australia, the U.S. and Canada after cobalt prices more than doubled in the past year. Glencore produces almost a third of the world's supply, mainly from the Congo, which is by far the biggest source, accounting for as much as 65 percent.
Among those backing new global developments are billionaire Anil Agarwal and mining tycoon Robert Friedland. They’re aiming to capitalize as a battery boom sends demand for cobalt soaring more than 30-fold by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“There’s going to have to be a response that goes beyond Congo,” said Sam Riggall, chief executive officer of Friedland-backed Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd., which is developing a $680m cobalt, nickel and scandium project about 350 kilometers (218 miles) west of Sydney. Congo’s tight grip on the market is a concern for battery producers to automakers, he said. “They are desperately looking for sources of supply outside of Africa.”
The arrival of an era of battery-powered vehicles has already kick-started a period of unprecedented growth for the metal, Franck Schulders, Glencore’s head of marketing, cobalt, said in an interview. Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. are among automakers investing in electric vehicles and the whole market could be worth $244bn by 2025, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a late 2015 report.
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