1. It is a by-product of copper mining
You can’t mine cobalt; you can only get it as a by-product of copper mining. So, where there’s copper, there’s cobalt. The Copperbelt, which runs through the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia, yields most of the world’s cobalt. The DRC alone accounts for 53% of world supply; Zambia is the world’s sixth-largest producer.
2. It’s more valuable than copper
Unusually for a by-product, cobalt is very valuable and worth much more than the metal that it comes from. Cobalt is currently trading at just over $61 000 a tonne, nearly nine times more than copper, which is currently hovering at around $7 000 a tonne.
3. It is used in batteries and jet engines
Most cobalt mined in the world is used in the batteries found in cellphones and other similar mobile devices; it is also increasingly being used in rechargeable batteries for electric cars. Cobalt is also mixed with other metals such as chromium and titanium to produce heat-resistant superalloys that are used in aircraft jet engines, where temperatures can reach 1 400 °C.
Cobalt is very valuable and is currently trading at just over $61 000 a tonne.
4. It’s been around for thousands of years
Cobalt has been used by humans to add colour to glass, ceramics, and glazes since at least 5 000 years ago. Items that have been treated by cobalt have been found dating back to Ancient Egypt (about 3 000 years before the birth of Christ), Ancient Rome, and the Ming Dynasty in China, which was established in the 14th century.
5. It’s good for animals
Cobalt is essential in the metabolism of all animals, and they can get ill or die without it. In the early 20th century during the development of farming in the North Island Volcanic Plateau of New Zealand, cattle suffered from “bush sickness”, which was found to be caused by a lack of cobalt in the area’s volcanic soils. The deficiency was overcome by the development of so-called “cobalt bullets”, which are fed to the animals.