More EVs, unstable supply put battery metal on US critical minerals list
Cobalt is an essential ingredient to optimizing the performance of batteries in the growing number of electric vehicles on global highways, yet essentially none of this battery metal is mined in the United States. With at least one advanced stage exploration project in Alaska looking into the potential of producing cobalt alongside its copper, America’s 49th State could provide a domestic source for this critical metal.
In its annual report, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2018, the United States Geological Survey forecasts that the rechargeable battery sector is expected to drive the demand of cobalt higher faster than the mining sector will bring new supplies of the battery metal to market.
“As a result, the global cobalt supply was expected to remain limited in the near term,” USGS penned in the annual report. This limited supply could affect more than U.S. carmakers such as Tesla Inc.
“Cobalt’s diverse uses-particularly in parts for aircraft turbine engines; in numerous magnet applications, including marine propulsion systems, missile guidance systems, sensors, and radar; and in machine tools-make it important to the U.S. military and civilian industries,” USGS wrote in a December report on cobalt.
The United States currently gets roughly 75 percent of its cobalt supply from overseas suppliers, with most of the balance coming from recycling. “This high reliance on imports increases the potential for supply disruption and high prices during supply shortfalls,” according to the USGS.
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