EU Science Hub

Cobalt: demand-supply balances in the transition to electric mobility

The expansion of the electric vehicle market globally and in the EU will increase exponentially the demand for cobalt in the next decade. Cobalt supply has issues of concentration and risk of disruption, as it is mainly produced in Democratic Republic of Congo and China. According to our assessment these risks will persist in the future, likely increasing in the near term until 2020. Minerals exploration and EV batteries recycling can make for an improvement in the stability of cobalt supply from 2020 on, which together with the expected reduction in the use of cobalt, driven by substitution efforts, should help bridge the gap between supply and demand. Despite this, worldwide, demand is already perceived to exceed supply in 2020 and such a loss making trend is expected to become more consistent from 2025 on. In the EU, although the capacity to meet rising demand is projected to increase through mining and recycling activities, there is an increasing gap between endogenous supply and demand. The EU's supplies of cobalt will increasingly depend on imports from third countries, which underscores the need for deploying the Raw Materials Initiative and the Battery Alliance frameworks.