Mining Startups

Battery Shortage: Where To Get That Much Cobalt

The Top division media start discussing the so-called Cobalt Crunch. Forbes interviewed Ivan Glasenberg — chief executive of Glencore: “…We have seen the investments that car companies are making in electric vehicles, Glasenberg said. They will need battery supply. It will require a lot of cobalt, and we all know the geological scarcity of cobalt.”

Cobalt is a rare metal that has tripled in price over the past year to $80,000 a ton, with 60% of global supply coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo immersed in a permanent civil war.

How sincere was Mr. Glasenberg talking about the “geological scarcity” of cobalt?

Indeed, the continental deposits of cobalt are quite limited. But what the biggest mining corporations are silent on is the tremendous seabed resource of cobalt numbering millions of tons. The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (in the Pacific ocean) alone contains 134 million tons of cobalt, for example.

If someone starts mining those super-rich seabed deposits, the market price of cobalt will inevitably go down. Will such a situation be advantageous for the world mining behemoths? Barely it will. Both EVs manufacturers and ordinary consumers will benefit from it. Because the abundance of the seaborn cobalt can make them less dependant on the current cobalt suppliers…

However, sooner or later some seabed mining trailblazer will start flooding the world mineral market with cheap cobalt — it’s just a matter of time. And most probably it will be some Chinese company since China has the largest reserved seabed mining area of about 86 000 square kilometers.

Hence, some apparent questions arise in this regard: why is the total disregard for seabed mineral deposits continuing on the global scale? Why don’t the leading mining corporations occupy the seabed mining sector to monopolize the mineral market?

If the problem comes to an appropriate deepwater mining technology only, it is not a problem at all — there are no unsolvable technical tasks — just recollect SpaceX with their reusable launch vehicles.

What is necessary to meet the challenge is dedication along with the focused efforts backed by the sufficient investments. By the way, the present New Cobalt Rush is to trigger a new investment boom. However, the investors are recommended to reconsider their priorities…

Battery Shortage: Where To Get That Much Cobalt was originally published in Extractive Industry 2.0 on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.