Cobalt is not very abundant in the Earth’s crust and most of it is found in association with other metals, such as nickel and copper. The main sources of cobalt are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which accounts for more than half of the global production, followed by Australia, Canada, Cuba, Russia, and Zambia.
The “cobalt belt” in Congo is a region that is home to the largest deposits of this metal in the world, but it is also an area of great poverty and labor exploitation. Cobalt is sold to intermediaries who export it to international companies, without traceability or social responsibility for the origin and impact of this mineral.
Cobalt mining typically involves open-pit or underground mining methods, depending on the location and nature of the ore deposit. In some cases, cobalt may be extracted as a byproduct of copper or nickel mining. The mining process involves drilling and blasting to break up the ore, which is then transported to a processing plant for further treatment.
Cobalt mining and processing can have negative environmental impacts, such as water pollution and deforestation. As concerns over sustainability and ethical sourcing increase, there is growing demand for responsibly sourced cobalt, which could lead to higher prices for certified cobalt.
Data from Delta Analysis U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
To download the data, click the cloud in the right corner at the bottom of the figure.