Cobalt is a relatively rare element, with an abundance of about 25 parts per million in the Earth’s crust. It is mainly found in combination with other metals, such as nickel, copper, and iron. The primary ores of cobalt are cobaltite, smaltite, and erythrite. It is also commonly found as a byproduct of nickel and copper. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest producer of cobalt, accounting for more than half of the world’s supply. Other significant producers include Russia, Australia, and Canada.
Cobalt has many important industrial applications, particularly in the production of rechargeable batteries, alloys, and superalloys. It is also used in the manufacture of magnets, cemented carbides, and cutting tools. Cobalt-based superalloys are used in the aerospace and energy industries, where they are used to manufacture turbine blades and other components that require high strength and corrosion resistance.
The most significant application of cobalt is in rechargeable batteries, where it is used as a cathode material in lithium-ion batteries. For this reason, the electric vehicle industry is a major driver of cobalt demand. As the global push towards decarbonization and renewable energy sources continues, the demand for electric vehicles is expected to increase along with the demand for cobalt.
Data from Delta Analysis U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
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