There’s a metal found in electric cars today that is mostly mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The African country is a tinderbox of political turmoil, wracked by labor disputes, and a frequent abuser of child labor. Consumers are looking for alternative resources of the metal.
In Canada, miners are working to find new sources of the metal, cobalt, that will be reliable, sustainable, and free of the disruptions and ethical woes attached to supplies from The Congo.
David George-Cosh writes in The Wall Street Journal:
Miners in Canada such as Vale SA, VALE 0.63% which has a cobalt-producing mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Sherritt International Corp.SHERF -2.66% , and smaller firms such as Royal Nickel Corp.RNKLF 2.76% , First Cobalt Corp. FCC 16.28% and Fortune MineralsLtd. FT 3.45% are raising funds and engaging in exploratory drilling.
Mainly through operations led by Vale, Canada is the world’s third-biggest producer of cobalt, after the Congo and China, accounting for about 6% of the world’s supply, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The metal is a crucial component of lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power electric vehicles as well as portable electronic devices due to its ability to conduct electricity when stacked with other metals such as lithium and nickel.
The demand for socially responsible sources of cobalt comes as the price of the metal has soared to $75,000 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, more than double the price from the start of 2017.
BMO Capital Markets expects current cobalt prices to double in the next two years as demand for electric-vehicle batteries continues to outstrip existing supply of the metal, the bank said in a report released in December.
Read more here.