By Xieshu Wang and Joël Ruet.
Strategic materials, such as rare earth, lithium, cobalt or nickel, are indispensable inputs for green transition technologies such as wind turbines or batteries for electric vehicles. With more and more governments aiming to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and as the necessity to transition to sustainable economies is becoming more and more pressing, primary materials’ demand will rise and they are therefore considered critical inputs, or strategic materials. It is expected that consumptions of strategic metals will increase from 7 to 19 billion tons per year, inducing serious tensions on the supply side. Cobalt is one of these metals used as an input in the magnets of wind turbines, and for the production of the cathodes of lithium-ion and nickel metal hybride batteries.
As China quickly understood the importance of the metal for future strategic technologies, it positioned itself early on the cobalt value chain and has therefore been able to control a significant part of the chain, mostly by controlling a large portion of the DRC’s cobalt ressources.
This document provides an analysis of China’s materials strategy, the way it has managed to gain a privileged position on the value chain, as well as an analysis of the key private actors that are major players on the cobalt value chain.
Industry recommendations : Industry Recommendations – China’s key materials strategy
Analytical report : Analytical Report – China’s key materials strategy