South Korean companies scramble to gain reliable supplies of cobalt – by Cho Kye-wan (Hankyoreh Hani English – April 15, 2018)

As the price of cobalt skyrockets, major South Korean companies such as LG Chem and SK Innovation are scrambling to gain a supply of this key ingredient for electric car batteries.

Since the metal has become marked as a “conflict mineral” because of the prevalence of child labor in Congo, which accounts for more than half of its global supply, battery producers are looking to secure more stable supply channels.

On Apr. 11, LG Chem announced that it had inked a contract with China’s Huayou Cobalt to set up joint ventures to produce chemical precursors and cathodes. Huayou Cobalt is the global leader in its industry, refining 20,000 tons of cobalt that were imported from Congo in 2017.

The company is a member of the Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI), which was launched in 2016 to jointly tackle problems in the cobalt supply chain. One of the goals of the initiative is extirpating child labor.

Through 2020, LG will be investing 239.4 billion won (US$220.3 million) in establishing and operating one company to manufacture precursors and another to manufacture cathodes, both as joint ventures with Huayou Cobalt.

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