EV Battery Makers to Rely on Cobalt Supply from Old Phones

Cobalt demand from electric vehicles (EVs) is forecast to grow to 95,000 tonnes by 2026, up from 12,000 tonnes last year, according to consultants CRU Group. Cobalt prices are also expected to rise alongside this trend. In order to combat the rising cost of cobalt, Samsung SDI has been working to adjust their EV batteries such that they contain over 90% nickel and only 5% cobalt. The South Korean battery manufacturer is also looking to recover cobalt from old smart phones for EV production. Approximately only 5-10% of smartphones are collected for re-use and recycling; last year only 7,100 tons of cobalt was recovered from old batteries. It’s estimated there are 1.6 billion used mobile phones worldwide, most likely sitting in the bottom of your drawers at your home. If these devices are collected and recovered, it provides an untapped supply of cobalt. Currently, 10% of the global cobalt supply goes into smartphone production, meaning this new recycling resource could increase cobalt supply as much as 10%. It’s also worth considering the need for recycling of electric car batteries; Bloomberg has predicted at least 342,000 tons of electric car batteries will stop working by 2025, presenting an even greater need for battery and cobalt recycling in the years to come.

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