An additional 30 000 tonnes of cobalt and 81 000 tonnes of lithium will be required annually to meet demand by 2021, so says Data specialist Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Is has become obvious that not all materials needed can be mined.
In fact, commodity research group CRU expects that approximately 11 600 tonnes of cobalt will come from recycling in 2021 – compared to 7 110 tonnes a year at present.
It is believed that, by 2026, recycling will supply almost 25 000 tonnes. Running the numbers, the market share would grow to around 10% and 18% by that time.
‘A 1000-pound lithium cobalt battery contains about US$ 6000 worth of cathode material at the top end of the value chain and about US$ 1700 for a nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery at the low end,’ comments Larry Reaugh, chief executive of Canadian metals recycler American Manganese.
‘If this equated to mining you would have a very high grade feedstock,’ he observes. ‘We’re mining batteries, you might say.’
Concern regarding the limited supply of lithium available for e-car batteries has already seen prices jump over 30% to a record US$ 12 000 a tonne this year.