One of the most important facts when considering a portfolio in cobalt is this: Outside of the DRC, most cobalt is produced as a by-product of nickel, with only 1% mined as the primary product says Roger Murphy, CEO of AIM-listed African Battery Metals.
African Battery Metals is looking to develop a portfolio of battery metals (including cobalt), starting in the DRC.
Many of the primary cobalt projects found elsewhere in the world are high grade cobalt sulphides, or more specifically cobalt arsenic sulphides, he explains.
In first world geographies like Australia this will lead to issues around attaining permits to mine these ore bodies responsibly given the need to handle arsenic.
Their production forecasts will also be small as most of these resource types are situated underground.
“The DRC does not have to contend with these geological challenges, which makes it even more attractive for exploration and development,” Murphy reveals.
Minerals and metals researcher and consultancy Roskill has forecast that cobalt demand will treble in the next 10 years, driven by electric vehicles and batteries for electric vehicles from the current 110 000 tpa demand and supply presently to over 300 000 tpa by 2027.
This effectively equates to a 11% growth in demand every year for 10 years.
This has seen the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – home to two thirds of the world’s cobalt resources – emerge as a hot destination for cobalt-copper exploration and project development, and will continue to do so, despite the introduction of a new Mining Code which some companies are opposed to.