The Democratic Republic of the Congo dominated cobalt production in the world during 2021, with a market share of more than 70%, according to the China Molybdenum company.
With this productive base, Congo exported cobalt and its manufactures for a value of 3,891 million dollars, according to estimates by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Conversely, China, other regions of Asia and Europe are the main consumers of cobalt globally, with the main cobalt consuming areas being batteries, high-temperature alloys, cemented carbide and magnetic materials, of which the battery sector accounted for more than 50 percent.
According to the latest data from the UK‘s Commodity Research Unit (CRU), approximately 159,000 tonnes of metallic cobalt were supplied from cobalt feedstocks in 2021, representing a year-on-year increase of 13.2 percent.
In particular, approximately 160,000 tons of refined cobalt were supplied, which represents an increase of 15.1% at the annual rate.
Regarding the global demand for cobalt, it amounted to approximately 174,000 tons, which represents a year-on-year increase of 27.0 percent.
Most notably, the supply-side increase in 2021 came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with some additional mixed nickel cobalt hydroxide (MHP) production capacity from Indonesia also contributing to the increase.
China Molybdenum said that global supply chain bottlenecks, unrest in South Africa and the pandemic limited the progress of supplying cobalt materials; the demand side has increased significantly thanks to the strong growth of new energy vehicles globally.
In 2021, China was the largest importer of cobalt, with foreign purchases of 2,484 million dollars, followed by the United States (355 million) and Japan (303 million).
In 2021, the annual average price of MB cobalt metal was $23.98 per ton, representing a year-on-year increase of 56 percent.
The low-range quote for MB standard grade cobalt reached a year-end high of USD33.5/lb at the end of the year.