BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
INCREASING global demand for batteries has created an opportunity for cobalt rich countries such as Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo DRC) to enhance supply for the metal. Demand was expected to reach around 190,000 metric tons by 2026-more than a fourfold increase since 2017. Prices shot up from an average of US$18 per pound in 2011, to over US$30 towards the end of 2017. According to director of Roskill Consultancy Group, Jack “Rather than just mine and export, it’d be better for Zambia to refine too and better yet, to build batteries and car parts or even cars, “Royalties have been increased in Zambia. Some metals have been impacted more than others. Some will call it resource nationalism,” said Mr Bedder Over the years, Mr Bedder said, a wide variety of chemistries had been explored, each of which had unique properties that rendered producers more or less-suited to specific applications. Mr Bedder told the Mining Weekly Zambia magazine that changes in the relative cost-competitiveness of different technologies had a significant impact on the commercialisation and market share. End-users, he said, especially electronics and automotive firms, were becoming increasingly interested in the provenance of their raw material inputs and were exploring ways of how to secure access to supply.
“But it remains to be seen which countries and projects will attract investment and issues related to governance and regulation. Few non-Chinese companies have, thus far, had the risk appetite to invest in the Democratic Republic of Congo cobalt assets,” Mr Bedder said