The DRC is also by far the largest producer of cobalt intermediates. The DRC produced 87.7kt of cobalt contained in intermediates in 2020, mainly cobalt hydroxide, accounting for 68% of global supply according to the Cobalt Institute. In 2013, the DRC government announced a ban on the export of cobalt concentrates, in order to move up the value chain, and although waivers are issued time and again, a majority of the country’s cobalt concentrates are processed into intermediates before being exported. In May 2021, the DRC reinstated its export ban on cobalt concentrates, after announcing a six-month waiver in October 2020.
- Glencore, ERG, China Molybdenum are the main producers of cobalt intermediates.
- Additionally, in March 2021, Chinese mining firm Wanbao Mining announced first production of cobalt hydroxide at the firm’s Pumpi copper-cobalt mine. The mine has a production capacity of 5kt per annum of cobalt hydroxide equivalent.
- An increase in supply contracts will further support domestic cobalt intermediates production. In January 2021, Swiss commodity trader Telf AG entered in an agreement to sell cobalt hydroxide from ERG’s DRC operations.
- In January, First Cobalt also announced a binding, five-year supply deal with Glencore for cobalt hydroxide produced by Glencore’s Kamoto Copper operation.