Official data from the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development indicates that Zambia’s cobalt production in 2022 increased by 2% to reach 251 tons, compared to 247 tons produced in 2021. This comes after a period of reduced production following the collapse of international cobalt prices.
The Ministry also reported that cobalt production in Zambia was 315 metric tons in 2020 and 878 metric tons in 2019. Cobalt is a crucial component in rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles, and reports suggest that global supplies of refined cobalt are expected to increase by 24% to approximately 210,000 tonnes this year, with demand predicted to rise 8% to 205,000 tonnes.
Currently, cobalt prices on the global market are trading at around US$34,180 per ton, and Zambia may benefit if production of this metal, used in the manufacturing of EV batteries, is increased. Cobalt is mainly used in the production of chemicals (58%), super alloys for gas turbine blades and jet aircraft engines, special steel, carbides, diamond tools, and magnets.
Electric vehicles are the driving force of the cobalt market, and significant growth is expected in this sector. It is worth noting that the Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, accounting for over 50% of global production, followed by Russia (4%), Australia, the Philippines, and Cuba.