COBALT: limited African production outside the DRC

Outside of the DRC, the single largest producer of cobalt is ZCCM-IH’s Mopani copper-cobalt mine in Zambia, which is undergoing expansion currently. Mopani produces about 2.5 to 3.0kt of cobalt concentrates annually.

In March 2021, Glencore, which was originally a majority owner of the Mopani Mine, sold its stake to state-owned ZCCM-IH after repeated confrontations with the government of Zambia.

Indeed, resource nationalism is a major risk in Zambia, and many parts of Africa with an increasing role of state-owned enterprises in the procurement of battery raw materials. 

Other than Zambia, Morocco and South Africa produce limited amounts of cobalt, Morocco producing 1.9kt and South Africa producing 1.8kt in 2020.

Cobalt is a chemical element with the symbol Co and atomic number 27. Like nickel, cobalt is found in the Earth’s crust only in a chemically combined form, save for small deposits found in alloys of natural meteoric iron. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal.

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