The existance of the price of cobalt goes way back. Cobalt connections were used by the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks to color glass. We know this know because of a necklace found in Persia that was made from cobalt colors glass beads that were blue. This necklace dates back to 2250 B.C.
That cobalt is very old is nothing new, but we love to share some more details about it before you try to invest.
Cobalt, what is it exactly?
Cobalt is a transitional metal that is silver in color. It is abbreviated to the letters Co in chemistry. Cobalt also has an atom number, namely 27. The name cobalt comes from German.
The world “kobold” means an angry gnome according to German mythology. In Sachsen the germany miners tried to mine not only metals that were common, but also cobalt quartz. This quartz looked the same as the metals they were looking for, but the value was completely different.
The story goes that the evil kobolds did not put metal quartz, but kobold or cobalt quartz in there. Cobalt quartz needs to go to a refinery before it can be used.
In 2017, China was the largest producer of refined cobalt. China was also the biggest refiner of cobalt. This has to do with the fact that it is used in batteries and China is a very large producer of these as well.
Cobalt, what is it used for?
Cobalt is mostly used as a coloring material. We all know the name cobalt blue. Cobalt is used to color things like porcelain and glass.
Cobalt is also used in different alloys. It can be used in very strong magnets as a core component. In the chemical, but also the oil industry, cobalt is used as a catalyst.
As mentioned cobalt is used in batteries, as it is processed into the electrodes that are put into batteries and generators.
To create the electrodes for batteries, cobalt is becoming a more important material. This is why the price of cobalt keeps increasing.
Where does cobalt comes from?
We just mentioned that cobalt is delved from mines. It is not true though that it can be found in all types of mines. Because not all mines contain cobalt. In Congo, a lot of cobalt is yielded. About 65% of all cobalt in the world comes from Congo.
Per year approximately 100.000 tonnes of cobalt is retrieved from the mines there. In other countries like Russia, China, Zambia and Australia a lot of cobalt is also dug up, but not nearly as much as in Congo.
What is the demand for cobalt?
Worldwide the demand for cobalt increases. That has everything to do with the always increasing demand for electric vehicles. Cobalt is obviously a very important component in developing batteries that are needed for these electric vehicles.
The batteries for this just keep getting bigger and get larger capacities. Globally more and more brands are developing, among other things, cars that drive electric.
There are companies that try to make deals with cobalt producing companies, to be ensured of the supply of cobalt. Yearly the demand for cobalt will rise by approximately 20 percent.
Applications for cobalt
Cobalt is used in many different industrial processes. We have mentioned one, but there are definitely a lot more. We will list a few:
- In batteries as electrodes. This is currently the largest application.
- In alloys of gas turbine engines, weather resistant alloys and cobalt-chrome alloys. This is used in implants and prostethics.
- Airbags for cars
- Chemical and oil industry as catalyst
- Diamond tools and hard metal
- As a drying agent for ink, varnish and paint
- Coloring agent or pigment
- Raw material for porcelain
- Fast steel
- Magenetic recording devices
- Strong permanent magnets as a component
- Radialbands with a steel carcass
Cobolt-60, an isotope that is use in radio therapy, is used to radiate food, medical products, packaging for food, cosmetics and many more other products.
Did you know that cobalt was even in beer? They were cobalt salts, but it was in it. It was used to stabilize the foam layer of beer. They found out about this in Copenhagen in 1957. They also found out pretty soon that cobalt is worse for the liver than alcohol, so they banned the use of any form of cobalt in beer.
Average price of cobalt
The cobalt price fluctuates a lot. There was a peak at which cobalt was sold for 80.000 dollar, in 2008. In 2015 though there was also a major low and the price plummited to 30.000 dollar.
Because at this point a lot of electric cars are being made, electric bikes rise in demand, the demand for cobalt goes up which also means that the price is in an upward trend as well.
Cobalt stocks can therefore be a pretty good investment opportunity. The trend towards a cleaner future and applications, means that the use of cobalt will also increase. And this upward trend in demand means that the prices will go up.
How deep are the cobalt supplies?
We are not getting rid of the cobalt supply any time soon. In Congo there is enough to be found in the ground and the reserves are plentiful.
Of course it is finite, but it is not a vision for any near future. We do not have to worry about that right now, or perhaps in our lifetime.
Not just Congo but also other places in the world still have a huge amount of cobalt in the earth.
A couple of places we can still find more is Australia, Canada, Cuba, the Fillipines, Russia, the United States and South Africa.