Cobalt production will have to quadruple by 2030 if demand is to be met

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Cobalt_OreUSGOVMining giant Celcore (LSE: GLEN) recently has announced in a study that in order to meet demand of “electro-mobility” the production of cobalt would have to be quadrupled by 2030 if demand is to be met. While not stated the same will more than likely be also true for other minerals and so-called rare earths. Whether this is feasible, however, is an entirely different question and scenario.

The experts from Glencore have not just considered the electric vehicles themselves but have included the entire infrastructure needed for a growth in EVs, from energy production, over energy transportation to the charging stations. The conclusion of the study is in shorthand that electro-mobility is a driver par excellence for growth with regards to raw materials.

In figures expressed it looks a little like this: For the year 2013 Glencore expects in the EV-sector an additional need for 4.1 million tonnes of copper, which would be equal to 18% of the entire copper production of 2016. As for nickel and cobalt the developments are rather dramatic. According to Glencore estimates in 2030 and additional 1.1 million tonnes of nickel will be required, which is 56% of the nickel on offer in 2016. In the cobalt department it is even worse. The additional need in 2030 is estimated to be an increase of 314% above the entire 2016 offer.

Cobalt is not as rare as many of the so-called rare earths which are needed in addition to all of this and which do not seem to fall into Glencore's remit and thus have not, apparently, been part of this study. It shows, in my opinion, once again how precarious the situation is as regards to our belief that electric vehicles and such are really able to replace the car, van, truck, etc., that today still, in the majority, are being powered by fossil fuels.

Anyone who believes that electric vehicles will be replacing all those gas and diesel-powered cars, trucks, tractors, combines, and so forth, better starts taking a very good and long look at the figures. It is not going to happen.

© 2017