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Cobalt price index


This post is a summary of the Cobalt price index developments since 2005 as per the IMF. The developments are expressed as an index and not in absolute terms. Therefore the Cobalt price index means that the values provided are relative to Jan 1 2019 which is defined as 1.00.



Further information on the Cobalt price index


What is cobalt

Cobalt is a chemical element with the symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal that is highly magnetic and has a melting point of 1495°C (2723°F). Cobalt is often found in the earth’s crust in combination with other elements, such as nickel and copper, and is often extracted as a byproduct of mining these metals.

Cobalt is an essential trace element that is required for the proper functioning of the human body. However, exposure to high levels of cobalt can be toxic and can cause health problems.


How is cobalt produced

Cobalt is usually produced as a byproduct of copper and nickel mining, as it is often found in the earth’s crust in combination with these elements. The primary sources of cobalt are copper-cobalt sulfide ores, which are found in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Russia, and Canada.

There are several steps involved in the production of cobalt:


The first step in cobalt production is the mining of copper and nickel ores, which are typically found in large deposits in the earth’s crust. The ores are extracted from the ground using various mining methods, such as open-pit mining or underground mining.


The ores are then ground into a fine powder and mixed with water to create a slurry. The slurry is then transported to a processing plant, where it is mixed with other chemicals and treated to extract the cobalt.


The slurry is treated with chemicals to dissolve the cobalt and other valuable metals, creating a solution known as a leachate.


The leachate is filtered to remove impurities, and the cobalt is then recovered through a process called solvent extraction, in which the cobalt is separated from the other metals using specialized chemicals.


The cobalt is then refined to remove impurities and create a pure cobalt product.

Overall, the production of cobalt involves a series of complex and energy-intensive processes. It is important to carefully manage the environmental impacts of cobalt mining and processing, including the potential for water pollution and land degradation.


Which countries produce cobalt

Cobalt is produced in a number of countries around the world, with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) being the largest producer. According to the United States Geological Survey, the DRC produced an estimated 67,000 metric tons of cobalt in 2020, accounting for about 50% of global production. Other major cobalt-producing countries include Russia, China, Canada, and Zambia.

Cobalt is often produced as a byproduct of copper and nickel mining, and many of the countries that produce cobalt also have significant reserves of these metals. For example, the DRC has large reserves of copper and cobalt, while Russia is a major producer of nickel and cobalt.

In addition to primary cobalt production, there is also a significant secondary market for cobalt, which includes recycled cobalt and cobalt that is produced as a byproduct of other industries, such as the steel industry. The United States, Europe, and Japan are significant players in the secondary cobalt market.


What is cobalt used for

Cobalt has a wide range of uses, including:


Cobalt is used in the production of lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly used in electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops.


Cobalt is used to create alloys, which are mixtures of metals that have improved strength, hardness, and other desirable properties. Cobalt-based alloys are used in the production of aircraft engines and other high-performance applications.


Cobalt is used to create blue pigments, which are used in the production of paints, inks, and other colorants.


Cobalt is used to create powerful permanent magnets, which are used in a variety of applications, including motors, generators, and speakers.


Cobalt is used as a catalyst in the production of chemicals, such as acetic acid and formaldehyde.


Cobalt is used in the production of some medical treatments, such as cobalt-60, which is used in radiation therapy.


What types of cobalt are there

There are several types of cobalt, including:

Cobalt metal

This is a pure form of cobalt that is used in the production of alloys, magnets, and other applications. Cobalt metal is typically produced through the refining of cobalt-containing ores.

Cobalt compounds

Cobalt can be combined with other elements to form various compounds, such as cobalt chloride (CoCl2) and cobalt oxide (CoO). These compounds have a variety of uses, including in the production of batteries, pigments, and catalysts.

Cobalt alloys

Cobalt alloys are mixtures of cobalt and other metals, such as tungsten, chromium, and nickel. These alloys have improved strength, hardness, and other desirable properties and are used in a variety of high-performance applications, such as aircraft engines and surgical instruments.

Cobalt salts

Cobalt can be combined with other elements to form various salts, such as cobalt chloride (CoCl2) and cobalt sulfate (CoSO4). These salts are used in the production of dyes, pigments, and other chemicals.

Overall, the type of cobalt used depends on the specific application and the desired properties of the final product. Cobalt is a versatile element that has a wide range of uses in many different industries.


How big is the market for cobalt

The global market for cobalt is significant, with demand driven by a variety of end-use industries, including the aerospace, automotive, and electronics sectors. According to a report by Market Research Future, the global cobalt market was valued at approximately USD 13.2 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 18.3 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.9%.

The Asia-Pacific region is the largest market for cobalt, followed by North America and Europe. The growth in the Asia-Pacific region is driven by the increasing demand for cobalt in the electronics and automotive industries, while the demand in North America and Europe is driven by the aerospace and defense industries.

Overall, the demand for cobalt is likely to remain strong in the coming years due to its wide range of uses and the growing demand for electric vehicles and other high-tech products. However, the cobalt market is subject to fluctuations in price and supply due to the complex nature of cobalt production and the limited number of major cobalt-producing countries.


Further information


Data source: IMF

This data has been partly provided by the IMF and the World Bank. The only change is that it has been indexed for Jan 2019 (so Jan 2019 is set as the index 1.00). The data is provided subject to the terms and conditions as defined by the IMF

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Notes on the price-data

  • We are continually improving our data collection and processing methods and data will be updated from time to time as we improve the accuracy
  • We are working hard to upgrade the algorithm before April 1, 2023 and a further fine-tune by July 1, 2023
  • This the index trend of the price of the product group in general and not a single specification in particular
  • The data is presented in US$
  • The chart shows the price trend,  nearly always taken from many statistically-correlated sources