A wide range of minerals contain cobalt although many are rare or unique to individual localities. 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.
Cobalt may substitute for transition metals in many minerals and chemical compounds and is commonly found in the place of iron and nickel as they share many similar chemical properties.
Cobalt minerals occur in concentrations high enough to support economic extraction in several diverse settings, all of which display very different examples of mineralisation. The most common groups of minerals are sulphides, sulphosalts, arsenides and oxides (see Table 1). In general common rock-forming minerals do not contain significant amounts of cobalt. However, it can be found in economic concentrations in olivine, spinel and chloride in lateritic and hydrothermal deposits (hydrothermal deposits occur where minerals are concentrated by the movement of hot fluids).
Common cobalt-bearing minerals found in economic deposits
Daniel Mine, Germany; Bou Azzer, Morocco
Skutterud Mines, Norway; Bou Azzer, Morocco
Sudbury, Canada; Broken Hill, NSW, Australia
Chambishi, Copperbelt, Zambia; Carroll County MD, USA
Bou Azzer, Morocco; Norilsk, Russia
Koniambo Massif, New Caledonia
Table 1 Common cobalt-bearing minerals found in economic deposits
Economic concentrations of cobalt can be found in four different geological settings, outlined in Table 2. Cobalt is almost always a by- or co-product of mining for other base metals, chiefly nickel and copper. Large quantities of cobalt also occur on the sea floor, contained within manganese nodules and cobalt-rich crusts, although they are not economically viable with current technology and economic conditions.
Click on the deposit type below for further detail.