In La Tribune 18/02/2020
Done deal! CATL and Tesla announced that the batteries of the eponymous brand of electric vehicles produced in China will be cobalt-free. They will run on the more robust iron-phosphate technology.
Why ? For cost reasons, but also to avoid being caught in the “rare metals” fake-news. After crying wolf over metals such as cobalt, the substitution has started.
Waiting for solid lithium batteries
Is it the end of cobalt story in batteries?
This substitution avoids additional financial costs and seeks to protect the image associated with cobalt mining. Above all, it is a deviation to avoid Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese batteries as much as possible and to tackle the next stage, that of solid lithium batteries, as quickly as possible; or even further another destination, sodium batteries.
Who will suffer from this movement away from cobalt?
It is not certain that all battery manufacturers will follow this cobalt-free path. However, whether or not this move away from cobalt is significant, cobalt producers will suffer, but not the ones we think about. Indeed, the industrial mines established in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are in second line, because their primary production is copper, cobalt is only a secondary product that improves margins, not building them up. The very first victims will therefore be the artisanal miners of the DRC who specialise in cobalt.
Destructive calamity for small-scale producers
Between Kolwezi and Lubumbashi, they live thanks to high cobalt prices. For them, the fake-news of “rare metals” will have caused substitution and thus a destructive calamity.
No doubt they will think of those information amateurs peddling infox by repeating Hugo’s phrase: “Ignorance is a reality that we feed on; science is a reality that we fast. To be a scientist and to lose weight; to graze, and to be a donkey. »