Nedal Nassar, chief of the Materials Flow Analysis Section at the National Minerals Information Center at the U.S. Geological Survey, told POLITICO (December 2) that a USGS review of 50 commodities  identified cobalt as one of the materials at highest risk of supply disruptions. Most of the world’s cobalt is currently produced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nedal estimates that somewhere between 40 percent and 50 percent of the DRC’s cobalt production is owned by Chinese companies. “A lot of it leaves the DRC and gets shipped to China for further processing” where about two-thirds of the entire world’s cobalt refining takes place in China.
(Comment: For the last two decades, China has invested heavily in cobalt mining operations in Africa. Beginning in 2000, Beijing encouraged overseas foreign investment in developing countries, especially in natural resources such as minerals. Beijing’s “Belt and Road” initiative in 2013 then started pumping an estimated trillion dollars into building trade corridors between China and Africa and Europe. As part of a $6 billion deal in 2007 dubbed “minerals for infrastructure,” China secured mining rights in a major cobalt mine in the DRC in exchange for building projects such as roads, highways and hospitals.)

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