With the U.S. in its sights, China moves to restrict rare earths exports. Could cobalt be next?
Business & Technology
New rules from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology make clear that Beijing aims to tighten export controls on rare earth metals, a group of minerals essential to manufacturing electronics. Meanwhile, China has been on a cobalt buying binge, particularly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Cobalt is a critical ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles. Considering that GM, Ford, Teslas, and other American auto manufacturers are placing enormous bets on electrification, China may have considerable leverage given that it controls 80% of the world’s processed cobalt market.
China, more than any other country, has been on a cobalt buying binge over the past year, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to buy up mining rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home to more than half of the world’s total cobalt reserves.
Eric Olander is the co-founder of the China Africa Project (CAP), an independent, non-partisan media initiative dedicated to exploring every facet of China’s engagement in Africa. Eric is also the co-host, along with Cobus van Staden, of The China in Africa Podcast, a member of the Sinica Podcast Network by SupChina. Read more