Global trends affecting the supply security of cobalt
Mining Engineering, 2017, Vol. 69, No. 12, pp. 37-37
Shedd, Kim; McCullough, Erin; Bleiwas, Daniel
The earliest known use of cobalt was to make blue glass in Mesopotamia before 2000 B.C.E. Since then, innovations across many diverse industrial sectors transformed cobalt into an essential commodity for contemporary society. The physical and chemical properties of the element cobalt and its alloys and compounds make them indispensable for a variety of applications, including aircraft engines, hybrid electric vehicles, machine tools, missile guidance systems, petroleum refining and smartphones. As a major industrialized nation, the United States is a leading consumer of cobalt and cobalt-containing products. However, with few exceptions, U.S. cobalt-containing ore deposits are of low cobalt grade. Historically, U.S. cobalt mine and refinery output have not met domestic cobalt demand. As a result, U.S. cobalt chemical and alloy producers need to procure most of their cobalt from the international market, which can become susceptible to supply risk.
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