Tesla Has Found Yet Another Safe Haven For Cobalt

Tesla battery production

JAN 14 2018 BY EVANNEX 39


Cobalt has a long history of mining silver but that’s changing as Cobalt is fast-becoming a hotspot for its namesake, cobalt, and Tesla is getting a piece of the pie (Image: Camp Scout)


When you think Tesla, your typically think Fremont, California or Sparks, Nevada. But Bloomberg recently published a fascinating story, The Canadian Ghost Town That Tesla Is Bringing Back to Life, which reports on some important mines in North America that are addressing the “global demand for cobalt, a component in batteries used to power electric cars for automakers from Tesla Inc. to Volkswagen AG.” So where is this so-called Canadian ghost town? Ironically, it’s called Cobalt, Ontario and it only has a population 1,100.

Although cobalt is critical to lithium-ion batteries, it’s been the subject of some controversy. A report from Amnesty International published concerns over cobalt being a conflict mineral when sourced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The report takes issue with, “several automakers like Mercedes, VW and BYD, as well as several battery manufacturers known to supply automakers, like LG Chem” who supply EV batteries for GM and Nissan.

That said, Tesla was spared: “the company [Tesla] is not named in the report because its main battery cell supplier, Panasonic, sources its cobalt from the Philippines and not Congo.”

Now, it appears (via Bloomberg) that Tesla also has access to cobalt in Canada. “Call it a cobalt rush in Cobalt… both the town and the metal, are attracting renewed attention as a buffer to rising political risks in the Democratic Republic of Congo”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman.

Above: The Economist reports on electric vehicles, batteries, and concerns surrounding cobalt mined in the DRC (Youtube: The Economist)

Roger Bell, director of mining research at Hannam & Partners in London explains, “Anybody who has cobalt outside the DRC is in a better situation because carmakers are very worried about their supply chains.” And Bell believes the amount of cobalt being used in electric cars could easily double in the next eight to 15 years.

Tina Sartoretto is mayor of Cobalt, Ontario. It’s reported that she’s, “hoping the renewed demand for cobalt will inject some economic life into her impoverished town. With no industrial base to speak of, the town struggles to survive on legacy endowments from past silver and cobalt miners.”


Cobalt is a key ingredient in Tesla’s batteries (Image: Energy and Capital)

But it turns out the future’s looking bright for Cobalt, Ontario. Gino Chitaroni, a local prospector, and geologist explains:

“This area’s seen more airborne surveys in the last year than in the last hundred… Two years ago, if you had a cobalt property you couldn’t give it away. All of a sudden, within six months, everything changed.”

Chitaroni is quick to showcase Cobalt’s advantages over mining locales in the DRC. In addition to steering clear of the DRC controversy, he says mining in Canada’s Cobalt boasts easy access to power, hydro, and expertise. “We call it Tim Hortons’s exploration,” Chitaroni says referring to the convenience of Canada’s popular donut-and-coffee chain. “If you’ve got a breakdown, in half an hour, I’ve got parts. Try doing that in the Congo.”


Source: Bloomberg

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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39 Comments on "Tesla Has Found Yet Another Safe Haven For Cobalt"

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Someone tell CEO Robert Murray this is how you run a mining company, you SWITCH products. — Capitalism.

You don’t beg the government for a bailout because you were too lazy to compete.

They didn’t ‘switch’, the mines went bankrupt, then many years later new customers came looking.

I don’t think the town’s name is ironic whatsoever.

I think they meant the Alanis Morisette type of ironic which yes isn’t actually ironic 😉

Right. Irony is a fire truck on fire. A Town named Cobalt containing cobalt is coincidence but not irony. An often repeated mistake. 🙂

It’s not even coincidence. Coincidence would be they named it cobalt because of blue skies or something and then later discovered minerals. Although the article doesn’t state it directly, the name came from the cobalt found in the silver ore. So not a coincidence.


Ah, then it’s not coincidence either. Appropriately named, perhaps? 🙂

Bingo. The correct word is “appropriate”, exactly the opposite of “ironic”.

Strangely enough, I’ve been seeing more and more this mis-use of “ironic” to mean “appropriate”. Which makes it an ironic use of the word “ironic”. 😉 That might be funny if it was intended, but it seems not to be.

* * * * *

DJ said:

“I think they meant the Alanis Morisette type of ironic which yes isn’t actually ironic”

Don’t know what you mean. I looked over the lyrics for the song “Ironic”… every situation mentioned is actually ironic, rather than appropriate.

Personally, I find “a black fly in your chardonay”, or “good advice that you just didn’t take” to be unfortunate, as are all the terrible situations mentioned in the song. But ironic? Perhaps teen angst is too far in my past to see the irony in “a traffic jam when you’re already late”.

I guess I’m not as middle-aged as I used to be.?

Well you’re right, I did overstate my case. “Good advice you didn’t take” is, as you say, simply unfortunate, not ironic. I’m also not sure that the guy with fear of flying who was involved in a plane crash when he finally took his first flight is ironic, either.

Most of the other things in the song, such as an old man dying the day after he won the lottery, and a death row inmate pardoned two minutes too late… certainly are ironic.

She should have called that song “Unlucky”.

It fits (feet, meter, and description).

Maybe he meant ironic sarcastically.

More like serendipity.

Yes, Even me, Norwegian and all, reacted on the “ironic” description. If the City with cobolt was named Petrol or Gastown I would have found it ironic…

There are actually 2 towns in SW Ontario Purposely named after Oil Finds ..1) Petrolia Ontario. & Oil Springs Ontario

Of course it isn’t ironic. It’s cobaltic.

You ‘Silver Tongued Devil’ You!
Cobalt, Ontario: A Silver Mining Town, that had Cobalt comingled with the Silver!

I agree, this is poorly written, but the irony is there if you know the story behind the town (perhaps the author assumed people do). The town was named for cobalt deposits in the area, but it exists primarily due to the silver rush and the mines here were mining silver. Cobalt was considered a worthless commodity and was not mined here.

Excellent. Though on the other hand, the situation in DRC provides an opportunity for the EV industry to do better than the oil industry has in Africa and not just exploit the people and land, but provide real investments into providing a supply chain that provides fair value to all the players in it.

Watched a news feature by CNN, of course , on how children mine the cobalt for EV’s in the DRC, not ever mentioning smartphones etc. They had to resort to filming undercover using what? .. A smartphone no doubt . … ” Don’t spoil a good story with the facts ” ……

It makes sense to explore other sources aside from the Congo. That cobalt is in the hand of Umicore and the Chinese Notably, 95% comes from legit operations of international mining companies, only 5% of the metal comes from artisanal mining. The minig companies use heavy equipment and are far more efficient. Child labor would only slow down operations, so their cobalt is save to buy (but not easy, as the cobalt mined by Chinese companies goes straight to China. They even bring Chinese (or hired North-Korean) workers to operate the mine). The artisanal mining is done by individual entrepeneurs (similar to gold rush) or “rebels”, and some of those use their own (or other) kids as laborers. In total about 1% of the cobalt from Congo is attributed to have some amount of child labor used somewhere in the process chain. Ironically, in many cases the kids (i.e. everyone up to age 18) are sole providers to a whole family who would likely starve if big corporate comes in and takes the jobs away (this is Africa, opening of a new mining operation from an outside company backed by the local government usually comes with a resettlement of the… Read more »

Now this is what I call ironic! To save the planet, we will be destabilizing and destroying the tribes in Congo 🙂
A hybrid would need way less of all these, and would save the world way better and faster. Alas, that doesn’t fatten the wallets of corrupt governments and corporate moguls.

Yes a hybrid is better because it helps the auto industry service and spare part sales and only destroys the air a bit. (Irony)

Is that you Mark BS?

Cobalt is a major element for batteries, not just the cost but the availability come into play.

Another Euro point of view

Canada, why not, now Canada being a country of high mining expertise , their must be darn good reasons for miners to go to a sh.t hole country like DRC instead of Canada (or Australia) with its exposure to civil war, power shortage, lack of rule of law etc..I take it that cobalt mining in Canada must be very expensive and reserves not that important. Now, like with fracking, we may find more effective/cheaper ways to mine cobalt as times come. Also, experts in the mining industry point that 5 to 10 years are needed to make a cobalt/copper mine operational, I wish they would develop more why such a long time is needed as I find it hard to believe. Maybe they mean time to secure financing, to secure exploitation permits/licences, then after this excavating etc…

Another Euro point of view

Now specifically in respect of this article, some questions:
1/ “Tesla has found yet another safe haven for Cobalt”
I find this title a bit confusing, like is Cobalt in need of a safe haven to hide from some danger. Is Mr. Cobalt Mr. Elon Musk’s best pal ? Or ?
2/ So despite of the somewhat confusing title what may be discussed here is raw material Cobalt. What is the link between Tesla and this ghost town ? Did Tesla secure a supply contract with some mining company there ? If not why the article ?
3/ Not only lately the news seems to trickle down from other sites but often in a less accurate manner.

One of the Big Lies from serial Tesla haters (know anybody like that, Another Euro FUDster? Hmmmm?) is that cobalt comes from conflict zones and child labor in the Congo, and li-ion batteries use cobalt, therefore…

Guilt by association. Typical of serial Tesla haters.

What this article points out is that there are other sources of cobalt, and that as the demand for li-ion batteries grows, so will those supplies of cobalt which don’t come from the Congo.

Even if Tesla doesn’t get any cobalt directly from Cobalt, Canada, the fact that Cobalt is producing more cobalt will help keep prices down, and that will affect Tesla’s business.

I think GM should bring back the Chevrolet Cobalt as a 300+ mile EV.


I had a discussion with my wife, of using that car to make an EV Conversion, using those kinds if Batteries: Lithium Cobalt Aluminum, about 5-6 years back! :*) ?

So there could end up being a little Canadian content in a Tesla. I’m cool with that!

As per the policy of 1970’s only the passenger and trunk space of vehicle is reported in EPA interior volume and ignores the Frunk (Frontal Trunk) space and this impacts Tesla vehicles like Model S/X/3. Model-S has another 6 cu. ft. frunk space while Model-3 has 3 cu. ft. frunk space.

So EPA says Model 3 has 112 cu. ft., but its actually 115 cu. ft. if we include the frunk space. In 2018, we cannot continue to follow the policy of 1970’s. So please write an email to
asking them to change the policy.

People, people! According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt,_Ontario
cobalt occurs with silver ore, in addition to ores of copper, nickel and other metals. Cobalt was discovered first in the area, and silver later.

Let’s just hope that the area can ramp up in a smooth, long-lasting way, and avoid a boom-and-bust.

Boom-and-bust is the nature of mining, innit?

The only exception I can think of is the De Beers diamond cartel’s mines. De Beers, until 2000, had a monopoly (about 90% of the market) on gemstone quality diamonds, and they limited supply enough to keep the price artificially much higher than it ought to be. So, those mines were worked only as much as they need to keep a steady, but artificially limited, supply flowing.

One of the memes that keeps getting repeated is that somehow the current mining of raw materials can’t meet demands, as if they can’t increase mining. So somehow that means that EV’s will fail.

Before we drilled for oil, we didn’t have enough oil to support cars replacing horses. But then they drilled for oil.

Great observation, EV haters use that logic all the time LOL CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP FOLKS

Goody, goody. I two weeks ago found a company looking to open a mine there and invested in it. I am hoping Pure Energy Minerals will do good in the future. Already the two Canadian companies that supply Lithium I invested in have done well and now I expect this too.

As pointed out there seem to be a lot of people who want to claim the minerals for batteries can only come for countries that are in trouble or polluting.

Well, Canada can supply Lithium and Cobalt without child labour, without supporting warlords and our pollution controls mean we will not poison the planet to get the minerals.

Where does the ‘haven’ (as in the article’s heading ‘Safe Haven’) come into all this?