Cobalt is mined across the world and the vast majority is produced as a by-product from large scale copper and nickel mines. Cobalt is only extracted alone in Morocco and some Canadian arsenide ores.
98% of cobalt production is mined as a by-product
Technologies include both underground and surface mining. Various nickel and copper ores are processed by both pyrometallurgical and hydro-metallurgical techniques.
The members of the Cobalt Institute are the main producers, representing over 70% of mined production globally.
There are approximately 30 principal cobalt-bearing minerals and over 100 more which contain minor amounts of the metal or include cobalt as a substitute for other elements.
Where is cobalt mined?
Total world reserves are estimated by the United States Geological Survey at around 7.1 million tons of contained cobalt. Cobalt is mined in several countries but the Democratic Republic of the Congo is by far the largest producer. However, as demand rises, mining in other countries including the US, Canada, and Australia is set to increase.
State of the Cobalt Market 2020 Report
Significant resources of cobalt are also present in the deep-sea nodules and crusts which occur in the Mid-Pacific. Although currently hypothetical resources, they are estimated to contain around 120 million tonnes of cobalt (USGS Metal Commodities Summary 2015).