Cobalt is a USD $16 billion industry which is growing at an estimated 6% rate projected into 2030 and beyond. One of the reasons for this growth is the increase in electric cars that use lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide batteries. Cobalt sulfate represents most of the delivered cobalt, followed by cobalt oxide and cobalt metal.

Approximately 70% of the world’s cobalt supply comes from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which also holds 50% of the world’s cobalt reserves. The surge in demand for cobalt has had a negative impact on the DRC’s rain forests, a problem that has been worsened by illegal mining activities which have no environmental or human safety standards.

In 2023, General Motors and Samsung SDI announced a $3 billion plan to build a new EV battery plant in the U.S. This followed announcements by Honda Motor and LG Energy Solution which had previously announced a USD $3.5 billion investment, also for an EV battery plant in the U.S.

Given the rapid increase in the need for EV batteries primarily by the U.S., demand for cobalt is expected to accelerate. It is likely that the U.S. government will look for alternate, safer and more reliable sources of cobalt closer to home.