Chinese Manufacturing Demand for Cobalt Drives Prices Up

Cobalt prices have soared following supply chain disruptions for cobalt, an element commonly used in the manufacturing of smartphones and electric vehicles.

The demand for cobalt began late in 2020 after China’s State Reserve Bureau announced plans to stockpile it, following an increase in electric vehicle sales across both China and Europe. China is the world’s largest importer of cobalt, purchasing 95,000 tons of it every year.

One ton of cobalt was trading for $53,000 last week on the London metal exchange, which was the highest ask for the precious metal since December 2018. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stands to benefit greatly from the increased demand, though recent supply chain issues and political instability have resulted in bottlenecks. The DRC produces an estimated 66% of the worldwide cobalt supply.

The total estimated global reserve of cobalt stands at about 7 millions tons, with about half of this reserve located in the DRC.

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