Morocco aims to exploit its cobalt reserves as part of the supply chain for rechargeable batteries, a senior official at the state hydrocarbons and mining agency told Reuters.
Cobalt demand has surged in recent years because of the increased use of rechargeable batteries for electric cars, phones and other goods.
Abdellah Mouttaqui, secretary general of the ONHYM agency said Morocco was pushing to increase its cobalt output, currently ninth globally at 1,900 tonnes last year, with the 11th-largest reserves.
The agency, which is responsible for all upstream prospecting before production concessions are offered to private investors, is exploring for more cobalt reserves in the Siroua region with Moroccan mining firm Managem, he said.
Managem said last month it had agreed a deal with Glencore for a proposed refining project at the Bou Azzer mine near Marrakech.
Most cobalt is extracted as a byproduct of copper or nickel production, except in Morocco where the mineral enjoys a high purity in the Bou Azzer mine, said Mouttaqui.
(By Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)