Cobalt

Major suppliers to the Cobalt industry are:

China’s
Jinchuan Nonferrous Metals Corp.
Huayou Cobalt Co., Ltd.
Jiangsu Cobalt Nickel Metal Co., Ltd.
Shenzhen Green Eco-manufacture Hi-tech Co., Ltd.

Finland
Freeport Cobalt (owned by Freeport-McMoRan, Tenke Fungurume Mining, Lundin Mining Corp., and Gecamines)

Norway

Glencore’s operation in Nikkelverk, Norway is the largest nickel refinery in the western world. Nickel concentrates containing cobalt, as well gold, platinum, and palladium, are imported from mines in Canada (Sudbury and Raglan) and other custom feed sources for processing.

Belgium

Specialty metals refiner Umicore refines cobalt for its Cobalt and Specialty Materials (CSM) division at its facilities in Belgium and China. The company has been refining and selling cobalt products since 1912.

Zambia

Chambishi Metals PLC is a Zambian copper and cobalt producer operated by ENRC Group. The company’s mining, tolling, and refining operations are all located within Zambia, while sales and marketing are handled by Dubai-based Comit Resources FZE.

Japan

Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. (SMM) is a subsidiary of the Sumitomo Group. SMM has a 27.5 percent stake in the Ambatovy Nickel Project in Madagascar, along with Sherritt International and Korea Resources Corp. The company’s Niihama Nickel Refinery electrolytic nickel and cobalt in Japan.

Canada

Sherritt International of Canada has a 50 percent stake in the Moa Joint Venture (Cuba) and a 40 percent stake in the Ambatovy project (Madagascar). The Moa Joint Venture is a vertically-integrated nickel and cobalt operation involving three companies: The Cobalt Refinery Company (CRC), International Cobalt Company Inc. (ICCI) and Moa Nickel SA. Material is mined by subsidiaries of Sherritt and General Nickel Company SA at an open pit lateritic nickel mine in Cuba. Concentrates of nickel and cobalt are then shipped to Sherritt’s Fort Saskatchewan facility for refining.

Madagascar

The Ambatovy mine (Ambatovy is a partnership of four companies – Sherritt International Corporation and SNC-Lavalin Incorporated from Canada, Sumitomo Corporation from Japan, and Korea Resources Corporation from Korea.)

Australia

Queensland Nickel in Australia operates the Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery (also known as Yabulu) The refinery has been reliant on imported ore from New Caledonia, Indonesia, and the Philippines since 1986.

Russia

Norilsk Nickel (main cobalt sources are the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company, the Polar Division and Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta in Finland)

Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. Like nickel, cobalt is found in the Earth’s crust only in chemically combined form, save for small deposits found in alloys of natural meteoric iron. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal.

Cobalt-based blue pigments (cobalt blue) have been used since ancient times for jewelry and paints, and to impart a distinctive blue tint to glass, but the color was later thought by alchemists to be due to the known metal bismuth. Miners had long used the name kobold ore (German for goblin ore) for some of the blue-pigment producing minerals; they were so named because they were poor in known metals, and gave poisonous arsenic-containing fumes when smelted. In 1735, such ores were found to be reducible to a new metal (the first discovered since ancient times), and this was ultimately named for the kobold.

Today, some cobalt is produced specifically from one of a number of metallic-lustered ores, such as for example cobaltite (CoAsS). The element is however more usually produced as a by-product of copper and nickel mining. The copper belt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic and Zambia yields most of the global cobalt production. The DRC alone accounted for more than 50% of world production in 2016 (123,000 tonnes), according to Natural Resources Canada.

Cobalt is primarily used in the manufacture of magnetic, wear-resistant and high-strength alloys. The compounds cobalt silicate and cobalt(II) aluminate (CoAl2O4, cobalt blue) give a distinctive deep blue color to glass, ceramics, inks, paints and varnishes. Cobalt occurs naturally as only one stable isotope, cobalt-59. Cobalt-60 is a commercially important radioisotope, used as a radioactive tracer and for the production of high energy gamma rays.

Cobalt is the active center of a group of coenzymes called cobalamins. vitamin B12, the best-known example of the type, is an essential trace mineral for all animals. Cobalt in inorganic form is also a micronutrient for bacteria, algae, and fungi.

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