Glencore has agreed to sell approximately one third of their global cobalt production to Chinese battery recycling company GEM for the next three years. This corresponds to about 52,800 tonnes of the sought after rare earth.
GEMs customers include the Chinese battery company CATL, who was recently announced to be supply VW with battery cells, among others. Just recently VW also announced a billion dollar delivery agreement with battery suppliers, including the three largest Chinese and Korean battery specialists.
The Swiss raw resource supplier Glencore is planning to seriously increase their cobalt mining operations, particularly in Congo, to double its current state within two years. According to reports, VW, Tesla and Apple were also negotiating with Glencore. The only certain agreement so far, however, is the one with GEM, which promises the Chinese firm 13,800 tonnes of cobalt this year, and 21,000 tonnes for the next two years. This will allow the battery recycler to significant expand their business, which had covered its rare-earth metal needs so far by scavenging old batteries and electrical appliances.
Currently the Democratic Republic of Congo holds the largest Cobalt reserves in the world. The African nation is currently planning to increase the licensing fees for the mineral, by classifying it as a “strategic substance” for the electric mobility market, and boosting the export tax from 2% to 5%. There is also considerable discussion revolving around the human rights and conditions of those working the mines.
Many car manufacturers and their host nations have begun increasing their efforts to secure their own supply, or at least to curb their consumption needs. Samsung is a good example for both: The South Korean manufacturer is planning to secure more cobalt from used smart phones, as well as fund the development of cobalt-free batteries. The Swedish government, on the other hand, has invested one million euros to explore resource availability and mining options for minerals such as cobalt and lithium within their own borders.
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