EVs to require 314,000 mt of cobalt by 2030: Glencore CEO

New York (Platts)--12 Dec 2017 643 pm EST/2343 GMT

Electric vehicles will require 314,000 mt of cobalt by 2030, representing 314% of global 2016 supply, Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg said during an investors' conference call Tuesday.

"It is clear electric vehicles will be a disruptive force to the world," Glasenberg said, and the mining industry would have to produce the metals required, including cobalt, for EV development.

But, he said, much higher prices would be needed to "incentivize the next generation of mine projects to feed into this large increase in demand we believe is sitting around the corner."

Glasenberg was quoting from a study Glencore commissioned from consultants CRU on EV-related metals demand across the supply chain, including generation, grid infrastructure, storage, charging and the vehicles themselves, in his remarks on projected cobalt demand for EVs by 2030.

The study also said EVs would require around 4.1 million mt of copper, representing 18% of 2016 global supply, for use in generation, grid infrastructure, grid storage and charging infrastructure. And EVs also would require around 1.1 million mt of nickel by 2030, representing 56% of 2016 global supply.

He said the world would not be able to rely on the Democratic Republic of Congo to provide that quantity of cobalt, which would mean recycling would have to play a much bigger role.

While Glencore, ERG and other producers had potential resources, the world "will have to find a better solution than relying on 300,000 [metric] tons of cobalt to come from the DRC."

And he warned that, in the near term, an unfavorable mining code could discourage mining investment in the country. "The mining code in the DRC could have a detrimental impact, as well as deferring much-needed foreign investments required in the country," he said. "The concerns of the mining industry have been raised and we hope the government of the DRC will engage with the industry [to find a solution]."

But, in the near term, by 2020, forecast EV-related cobalt demand would be realized if Glencore achieved its production targets. In a slide presentation, Glencore said EVs would require an additional 390,000 mt of copper by 2020, 85,000 mt of nickel and 24,000 mt of cobalt.

Katanga Mining, a Glencore subsidiary, announced the hot-commissioning of its the first part of its whole-ore leach plant at its Kamoto copper and cobalt mine in Lualaba province Monday.

This unit is expected to produce 150,000 mt of copper cathode in 2018 and 11,000 mt of cobalt, rising to 300,000 mt of copper in 209 and 34,000 mt of cobalt in 2019. It is projecting 2020 output of 300,000 mt of copper and 32,000 mt of cobalt.

--Anthony Poole,

--Edited by Valarie Jackson,

Copyright © 2018 S&P Global Platts, a division of S&P Global. All rights reserved.