United States Plans To Increase Domestic Cobalt Production
A recently released report by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) advocates the mining of locally-sourced cobalt to further reduce the dependency on the Democratic Republic of Congo for access to minerals that will help the United States in its pursuit for clean energy technologies.
By Damon van der Linde - Exclusive to Cobalt Investing News A recently released report by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) advocates the mining of locally-sourced cobalt to further reduce the dependency on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for access to minerals that will help the United States in its pursuit for clean energy technologies. The 2010 Critical Materials Strategy predicts that the U.S. should be able to meet its future needs for cobalt—a key component in batteries, including those of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)—without relying on the DRC. Although the United States is the world's largest consumer of cobalt, it does not have well-established primary cobalt and nickel mining facilities, which is where the vast majority of cobalt is sourced as a byproduct. The United States has not mined cobalt since 1971 and has not refined the mineral since 1985. The DRC dominates cobalt production while presenting a high political risk as it ranks below the 10th percentile in all World Governance Indicators (WGI). About 40 percent of global cobalt mining occurs in DRC while only around 2 percent of global refining of cobalt into metal takes place in the country. As the 2010 Critical Materials Strategy report states: “Several additional pieces of information are helpful for understanding demand-supply mismatches for the United States. Import dependence and supply risks in general should be examined over the entire supply chain […] This indicates that countries importing refined cobalt can still be indirectly dependent on cobalt from DRC, a politically unstable country.” In recent decades, the United States has been recovering very small amounts of cobalt from Missouri's lead ore and from the mining and smelting of platinum group metals (PGMs) in Montana. Imports from at least nine other countries with significant cobalt production and reserves, secondary sources (i.e., recycled scraps and spent materials) and stock releases have been the United States' major sources of cobalt. Currently, several projects are under development to expand cobalt mining and production in the United States.