Atomic Number: 27
Atomic Weight: 58.933 u
Element Category: Transition metal
Origin of the Name
Prior to 1735, miners in Europe used the name kobold ore (German for goblin ore) for some of the blue-pigment producing ores, so named because they gave noxious fumes when smelted. In 1735, such ores were found to be reducible to a new metal (the first discovered since ancient times), and this was ultimately named cobalt after the kobold ore.
'Cobold' refers to the derivation of the word cobalt.
Uses and Applications
Lithium Ion Batteries
Lithium ion batteries possess high specific energy, low rates of self discharge and are generally maintenance free. Today, most portable applications are powered by cobalt-based lithium ion batteries
Demand is driven by:
Fixed energy storage
Cobalt-based alloys, including superalloys, exhibit superior corrosion resistance, particularly at elevated temperatures. Superalloys are used in aerospace, nuclear power, gas turbines and automobiles. The largest superalloy application is aerospace, with approximately 50% of total global consumption, followed by the power sector (20%) and machinery (10%).
Demand and Consumption
(Source: Research in China)
Supply and Production
The cobalt market is highly concentrated with the top five countries supplying 77% of the global market. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) alone supplies 47% of the global market, however, using DRC produced cobalt poses numerous ethical and supply risks for companies due to the country’s prolific use of child labour, failing infrastructure, growing economic risks and ongoing political instability.
Downstream users, such as Tesla and Apple, are seeking more ethically sourced cobalt. This paves the way for the rest of the world to increase cobalt operations in order to meet the supply gap and offer a more ethical and stable origin.