Cobalt

Cobalt Co, chemical element. 3D rendering isolated on black background
AlexLMX / Shutterstock

Which countries have the largest cobalt reserves? Let’s take a look at the nations that hold the most of this critical metal.

Cobalt has gained considerable market attention over the past couple of years. Even though prices are volatile, more and more investors are showing interest in cobalt.

The battery metal, combined with other key raw materials, is an essential component of lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power electric vehicles (EVs).

Despite possible battery chemistry changes and the potential for disruptive new battery technologies, demand for cobalt is expected to rise, and market watchers are keen to find out where it may be mined in the future. That’s why it’s important to review cobalt reserves, which is how much economically mineable cobalt a country holds.


By keeping an eye on these numbers, it’s possible to guess which countries may become — or continue to be — powerhouses in the cobalt industry.

For instance, even though the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the world’s top cobalt producer, holds the world’s largest reserves of cobalt, Australia has a sizeable amount as well — but it doesn’t have the same widespread issues that the DRC has. Knowing this kind of information can help investors get ahead of the herd.

“Those who control these critical raw materials (lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite) and those who possess the manufacturing and processing know-how, will hold the balance of industrial power in the 21st century auto and energy storage industries,” Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Managing Director Simon Moores has previously said.

His firm expects cobalt demand to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent over the next decade. At the same time, in 2022, supply constraints have resulted in the highest prices for cobalt in three years.

As a result, manufacturers of EVs might struggle to secure supply of cobalt in the coming years, in addition to lithium, nickel and graphite. In fact, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence has warned that "there is not enough of these raw materials in the pipeline to take the majority of EV makers beyond 2030".

With that in mind, here’s an overview of cobalt reserves by country. All cobalt reserves numbers are based on the US Geological Survey’s most recent data.

1. Democratic Republic of Congo

Cobalt reserves: 3,500,000 MT

As mentioned, the DRC holds the world’s largest reserves of cobalt. It’s also the world’s top cobalt producer, providing over half of global supply, with about 20 percent extracted by artisanal miners.

Unfortunately, the DRC is also home to political instability, making it a challenging place to mine. What’s more, mining in the country has been linked to child labor and human rights abuses. In addition to that, in 2018, former President Joseph Kabila implemented a new mining code that increased royalties and taxes on the mineral.

Even so, the DRC is likely to remain key to cobalt production for the foreseeable future. As Caspar Rawles of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence has said, “There’s no lithium-ion battery industry without supply from the DRC.”

2. Australia

Cobalt reserves: 1,400,000 MT

Australia puts out much less cobalt than the DRC, but its reserves of the metal are still high. It produced 5,600 MT of cobalt in 2021, making it the third largest cobalt producer, and its reserves stand at 1,400,000 MT.

With concerns about DRC cobalt running high, some electric car makers are calling for increased EV battery production outside the African country, and Australia is one of the countries both automakers and battery manufacturers are paying attention to. Currently, most cobalt production in Australia is produced as a by-product of copper and nickel mining, two base metals that are also essential raw materials in electric cars.

3. Indonesia

Indonesia reserves: 600,000 MT

Indonesia’s cobalt reserves are the third largest globally. Its cobalt production came in at 2,100 MT in 2021.

Indonesia, which the Cobalt Institute highlights as the largest growth market for refined cobalt production, is expected to provide a quarter of total refined cobalt growth in the medium term. China-based Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt has partnered with EV battery maker EVE Energy (SZSE:300014) and others to build a US$2.08 billion nickel and cobalt smelting project in Indonesia.

More cobalt reserves by country

The DRC, Australia and Indonesia have the highest cobalt reserves, but many other countries also hold significant cobalt reserves. Here’s a quick look at where other nations stand:

  • Cuba — 500,000 MT
  • Philippines — 260,000 MT
  • Russia — 250,000 MT
  • Canada — 220,000 MT
  • Madagascar — 100,000 MT
  • China — 80,000 MT
  • United States — 69,000 MT
  • Papua New Guinea — 47,000 MT

According to the US Geological Survey, the total world reserves figure sits at 7,600,000 MT.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

How to Invest in Cobalt:

MARKETS

Markets
TSX19235.09-135.90
TSXV622.62-0.61
DOW30273.87-42.45
S&P 5003783.30-7.63
NASD11148.64-27.77
ASX6699.30+242.40

COMMODITIES

Commodities
Gold1716.70-8.66
Silver20.64-0.38
Copper3.55+0.06
Palladium2253.86-49.15
Platinum922.47-8.53
Oil87.99+1.47
Heating Oil3.70+0.18
Natural Gas6.96+0.13

DOWNLOAD FREE REPORTS

×