Cobalt is critical for worldwide electric mobility

18 June 2021 – During last month’s Cobalt Conference a special focus was placed on the critical role that cobalt will play in enabling electric mobility across the globe. Most of the world’s cobalt is found in Africa, specifically in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).       

The 2021 edition of the Cobalt Conference – the only worldwide event that brings the entire cobalt industry and value chain together – has become a platform for the high-level state officials, industry executives, market analysts, NGOs, and policymakers to discuss the role of cobalt in ensuring a sustainable future.

A special focus was given to the critical role of cobalt in enabling electric mobility across the globe: the latest European legislative and regulatory developments impacting the battery value chain, as well as the Chinese perspective on it.

The various sessions examined all aspects of the cobalt value chain and exchanged views on how the industry is positioning itself to address the upcoming challenges.

Joseph Ikoli Yombo Y’Apeke, the DRC’s Secretary General of Mines, insisted on win-win partnerships and presidential support for relationships between the DRC state and mining companies.

Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, spoke about the country’s deep sea mining potential and the nation’s efforts to develop its vast resource sustainably and responsibly as a means to provide much needed economic security and support the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

The European Commission announced an update of the REACH directive at the end of 2022, which will restrict the use of hazardous substances unless considered “essential”, which they indicated cobalt would likely be.

Jean-Dominique Takis, CEO Entreprise Générale du Cobalt, demonstrated the DRC’s efforts to formalise the artisanal and small-scale mining, as well as to ensure traceability and to strengthen the reputation of the DRC and attract investment.

David Brocas, Chair of the Cobalt Institute Executive Committee and Lead Cobalt Trader, Glencore, argued that long-term (5 years) commitment from customers is needed to encourage mining companies to re-open mines.

Market analysts from Roskill and CRU agreed that the demand for cobalt is expected to increase, driven by demand from electric vehicles (EVs) in China and Europe. William Adams from Fastmarkets estimated the need of 4 million tons of cobalt for the 10-year period until recycling become large scale at the end of the life cycle of the first generation of EVs.

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