Russia plans to increase cobalt production in coming years
Russia plans to significantly increase the volume of cobalt production during the next several years, according to recent statements of an official spokesman of Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade.
In 2015 the volume of cobalt production in Russia amounted to only 10 metric tonnes, however, according to state plans, these figures should be significantly increased already in the coming years.
It is planned that the majority of cobalt will be produced at the Norilsk-1, Talnakh Oktyabrskoye and other country’s largest copper-nickel fields, which are located in the Norilsk region of the country, Russia’s center of cobalt production. In addition, as part of the plans is also the production of cobalt on the basis of Zhdanovsky and Zapolyarny fields, which are located in the Kola Peninsula of the country.
Currently Russian cobalt reserves are classified, however, according to various estimates, they may be in the range of 600,000-650,000 tonnes, of which 170,000 tonnes are proved reserves.
Among the largest cobalt producers in Russia are currently such companies as Norilsk Nickel, Ufaleynickel, YozhUralsNickel and some others. In 2011, cobalt production in the finished product (concentrate, salt, metal) in the country amounted to 4656 tonnes.
In the meantime, there is a possibility that, in addition to traditional fields, Russia may start cobalt production on the basis of offshore fields.
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That may take place on the area, that was provided to Russia by the International Seabed Authority for the exploration and subsequent commercial production of cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts (KMC). The area is located in the Pacific Ocean, near the Magellanic mountains, while its total reserves are estimated at 1 million tonnes of cobalt.
To date, Russian geologists have completed exploration drilling at the field.
According to Mikhail Sergeev, First Deputy General Director of Sevmorgeo, one of the leaders of the Russian market of geoscience services, the value of the field is unprecedented, while the content of cobalt in its ores is estimated at 1%. For comparison, cobalt content in the majority of the existing proven fields usually does not exceed 0.7%.
The same position is shared by Tatiana Hulapova, a leading geologist of Yuzhmorgeologiya, another Russia’s leading company in the field of geoscience services, according to which the reserves of the field are equivalent to the 50,000 tonnes of the similar onshore fields.
In addition to Russia, the right for the exploration of cobalt-manganese oceanic crusts has been also granted to China, Japan and Brazil. This became for the first time since the ISA rules for the development of such fields were approved only in 2012.
According to data of the US Geological Survey, global cobalt reserves are estimated at approximately 7.5 million tonnes. The share of the African continent is estimated at – 52%, the North America – 17%, Australia and the Pacific – 24%, while in Asia – 7%.
Prior to 2000s, the majority of cobalt to the global market were supplied from Africa, however in recent years the volume of supplies has significantly increased from such countries as Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Russia and China.
Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. ... <Read more about Eugene Gerden>