Global cobalt production hit a record high of 170,000 tonnes in 2021, according to preliminary data released by the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The number represents a 20% jump compared to 142,000 tonnes produced in 2020.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continued to be the world’s leading source of mined cobalt, supplying more than 70% of world cobalt mine production. DRC was followed by Russia (7,600 tonnes) and Australia (5,600 tonnes).
“The increase in raw materials feed was mainly from increased production at existing operations, although new production and restarts at suspended operations also contributed to supply,” the report reads.
China was the world’s leading producer of refined cobalt and also the leading consumer, with more than 80% of its consumption being used by the rechargeable battery industry.
The cobalt price rose by 119% in 2021 and could climb to new highs through 2022 and beyond, according to the chief executive officer of diversified mining company Eurasian Resources Group (ERG).
“While it seems ‘obvious’ to us today that much of the tightness is underscored by stellar demand growth from the EV segment,” Benedikt Sobotka said, “just a year ago, most of us would have sniggered with disbelief at the prospect of EV sales more than doubling in 2021.”
“Yet it is now a reality, and the pace of EV adoption shows few signs of losing momentum, being supported by the global transition to a greener future,” he said.