Cobalt Life Cycle

The global cobalt value chain is composed of a range of different actors. Cobalt mining is concentrated in large scale copper and nickel mines across the world, while processing is concentrated in China.

With the sharp increase in demand, driven by a drive to reduce transport emissions, the global supply chain is evolving fast, with new mining operations starting up or expanding in many parts of the world.

Cobalt is not a rare resource


Cobalt is not a rare metal and ranks 32nd in global abundance


Current land sources are estimated to provide well over 100 years of supply

World Cobalt production and reserves in 2019

The global supply chain

The global cobalt supply chain can be summarised by the diagram below

cobalt life cycle

A multi layered value chain

Unlike other metals, cobalt is rarely found in its pure form. A small quantity is produced specifically from one of a number of metallic-lustered ores, such as cobaltite (CoAsS). However, the vast majority comes from ore usually produced as a by-product of copper and nickel mining. An increasing percentage also comes from recycling products that contain cobalt.

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