Chilean Cobalt Corp. is an innovator and leader that strives to be the most responsible supplier of critical mineral resources for the development of advanced material and cleaner energy technologies that address the most pressing environmental and development issues. We have a deliberate focus on building a dynamic and sustainable business across environmental stewardship, social engagement and corporate governance
High-capacity lithium-ion batteries used in Electric Vehicles (“EVs”), stationary storage and other applications, such as consumer devices and electronics, are projected to have high levels of growth into the foreseeable future and cobalt is one of the key battery chemistry cathode materials selected by downstream battery producers.
The growth in the battery market for EV-purposes alone is driving the need for additional reliable and ethically sourced amounts of cobalt. Some of the most dominant battery chemistries have cathode configurations with material amounts of cobalt, due to cobalt’s ability to provide favorable energy density, which is a measure of the efficiency of power delivery per unit of weight.
Nearly all global mined cobalt is as a secondary or byproduct phase of other mining activities, such as Nickel mining. The La Cobaltera district in Northern Chile has historically proven grades of cobalt that make it feasible to mine cobalt as the primary material with copper as a potential secondary material. Mining cobalt as a primary material with higher grades would enable Chilean Cobalt Corp. to achieve meaningful production of cobalt with a much smaller footprint than most of the present secondary sources of cobalt. Click here to see more about the La Cobaltera district and Chilean Cobalt Corp. project.
Chile is one of the world’s top mining jurisdictions and is the #1 copper producer, as well as a large producer of lithium, molybdenum, gold, silver and more. Chile has an existing free-trade agreement in place with the US and that qualifies it for certain programs such as products and materials sourced from the country under the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act EV credit provisions.
Global areas of substantial future EV and stationary electricity storage growth are expected to be the US and Europe, as they take strides to catch up with the lead achieved in this space by China. The US is particularly vulnerable with respect to responsible sourcing of cobalt, which is on the US Department of the Interior’s list of critical minerals. This is expected to trigger an increase in demand driven by the rising EV market penetration and the projected growth of EV and battery manufacturing facilities (gigafactories) across the US. To ensure certainty of supply from reliable and ethical sources, EV automakers and battery manufacturers are signing off-take agreements to confirm origin and reasonably priced material acquisition.
Current production of cobalt is dominated by the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) with over 70% of the world’s mined supply. The supply monopoly by the DRC presents global supply chain risks, due to the significant infrastructure and logistical risks encountered in the DRC. Artisanal mining of upwards of 20% of the output, often with forced or coerced labor in unsafe working conditions, accompanied by unethical environmental practices.
Downstream material processing and battery manufacturing is dominated by China. China has excessive control of all key components to battery processing, cobalt included. This level of control presents a heightened risk to global consumers, as China has typically weaponized in areas where it has held a controlling market share, such was the case with rare earth elements.
China’s materials pipeline relies on sources that are less ethically balanced, such as the DRC and also exhibited by some of its projects in Indonesia. Indonesia is one of the world’s largest nickel producers. Nickel mining and smelting near Indonesia’s fragile coastal ecosystems has resulted in pollution (red mud) and disrupted local fishing communities. Many of the Ni-Co projects in Indonesia are actually owned by Chinese companies or are selling material to Chinese processors setup locally in order to maintain Chinese market control.