The recent resurgence in the use of cobalt-free battery formulation, especially in the Chinese battery market, has raised questions about the future of cobalt demand in the electric vehicles (EV) sector.
The use of cobalt in lithium-ion batteries has always generated concerns due to its high cost, as well as the use of child labor in “artisanal mining” at the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where 60% of the world’s cobalt is produced.
However, market participants believe cobalt will remain key in the coming EV boom – even though Tesla has announced plans to completely get rid of cobalt in the near future.
Renewed enthusiasm for lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cathodes started to be evident in China in the second half of last year, after the local government cut subsidies for EVs by half compared with its previous policy.
The limit of Yuan 25,000/unit for cars with a driving range above 400 km – maintained this year – was not considered enough to cover the costs of producing the existing nickel-rich cathodes, which are higher than costs for LFP cathodes.