The advances in energy storage and the advent of the li-ion battery are fueling a new technology revolution – in our consumer products, the automotive industry, energy storage and grid management, and the internet of things.
While headlines tout the newest smartphone release or advance in electric vehicle adoption, a race for the materials that power this innovation revolution has been underway for years. And as a country, we’re falling behind.
Cobalt is crucial to modern li-ion battery technology despite efforts to reduce its prevalence. But the cobalt supply chain presents numerous challenges for U.S. companies.
As with many other critical minerals, China has established a near-stranglehold on the market, refining an estimated 80 percent of the world’s cobalt chemical products.
Further, most cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a weak state in which the mining industry has had difficulty keeping children and other laborers from hazardous “artisanal mining” — i.e., mining and washing the ore by hand.
DRC is projected to supply nearly 70 percent of the world’s cobalt for the years to come.
Source: Recycle Your Batteries, Before China Wins That Race, Too – Defense One