The main source of cobalt has now transitioned away from mobile phones to electric vehicles (EVs).
Smartphones and laptops have been the main cobalt-users in recent years but its use in lithium-ion batteries, alongside more popularity, has meant that EVs have driven past them.
The Cobalt Institute has revealed that in 2021, the car industry took up 34% of total cobalt demand, consuming 59,000 tonnes.
That’s more than double the 26,000 tonnes used by the mobile phone industry and 16,000 tonnes used for laptops and computers.
By 2026, the car industry is expected to occupy half of global cobalt demand but there are worries that the level it is expected to grow can’t be achieved with the amount of raw materials required.
Cobalt supply is more limited since it is a by-product of mining both nickel and copper and the Cobalt Institute reveals that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is responsible for three-quarters of this.
In 2021, the nation produced 118,000 tonnes – the second largest supplier was Australia with just 5,600 tonnes.
Buying mining companies has been touted as a solution by Tesla’s Elon Musk, as the EV world looks to establish a consistent and strong supply chain.
Last year, 175,000 tonnes of cobalt were consumed in total, with the Cobalt Institute stating this could rise to 320,000 tonnes in the next five years.