Tesla joins Fair Cobalt Alliance in Congo
Tesla has recently appeared on the list of members on the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA) website. It joins companies including the mining major and trader Glencore and the Chinese cobalt refiner Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt in backing the initiative, which aims to improve working conditions and end child labour in mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The DRC produces approximately 70% of the world’s cobalt, but the industry’s clients - predominantly makers of cars and batteries - have become concerned by reports of unethical practices in the country’s mines. Child labour is particularly widespread at informal, artisanal mines, where cobalt is often dug by hand.
Rather than refusing to work with small mines, which creates tens of thousands of jobs in DRC, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has said that it is better for companies to engage with the informal cobalt sector, to try to push for changes. The Fair Cobalt Alliance has been created to make this happen, by lobbying for smaller mines to pay fairer wages and adhere to international practices.
Global demand for cobalt is predicted to grow in the next few years, as Tesla expands into China and Europe, and Volkswagen and BMW develop their own ranges of electric vehicles.
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”