Cobalt is a metal which is found mostly in a combined form in the earths’ crust. Cobalt and its derivatives has various application in super alloys, reusable energy storage systems, wear resistant alloys, magnets, binder material, thermal spray coatings, orthopedics, life sciences applications and others. Cobalt is mostly combined with other metals and used in the alloy form. Cobalt based alloys exhibits high oxidation resistance and high tolerance to thermal variations.
Cobalt market is mainly driven by increased demand of chemicals used in the rechargeable and recyclable batteries. Another driving factor for the cobalt market is the use of super alloys in light weight vehicles as alloys reduce the weight of the vehicle, thereby improving efficiency. The growing demand for light weight vehicles is increasing owing to the prevalence of stringent regulations to reduce CO2 emissions. Use of alloys in the aircraft engines is another factor fueling the cobalt market. The cobalt market is experiencing challenges to meet the demand due to low supply. The issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are majorly affecting the supply of the cobalt. The issues include government banned export of the raw material, political and economical instability, power and water shortages and others. Increasing supply-demand gap has resulted in increasing the prices of cobalt. New applications in the various industrial applications such as renewable energy, healthcare, catalysts and defense are expected to open new opportunities for the growth of the cobalt market in the near future.
China is the largest consumer of the cobalt, with use of cobalt in the downstream industries such as batteries, magnetic materials, hard alloys and others. The largest cobalt producing country is Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) followed by Canada, China, Australia, and Zambia. The demand from chemical batteries industry and the automotive industry is driving the market in this region. The U.S. is the second largest consumer of the refined cobalt with growing demand from various industries.
Major players in the global cobalt market include Glencore Xstrate plc, Huayou Cobalt, Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold, Umicore and Jinchuan among others.
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