Ethical Supply: The Search for Cobalt Beyond the Congo
Each new generation finds new uses for materials, and cobalt is no exception.
Historically, potters and painters used cobalt as dye to color their work. Today, a new cobalt supply chain is emerging to build the next generation of clean energy.
However, there is lack of transparency surrounding the current supply chain for cobalt, as the metal is subject to a number of ethical issues from its main country of production—the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Today’s infographic comes to us from Fuse Cobalt and uncovers the potential for new sources of cobalt beyond the Congo.
Cobalt’s Growing Demand
Cobalt’s specialized properties make it crucial for rechargeable batteries, metal alloys, and EVs:
- Thermal stability
- High energy storage
- Corrosion resistance
- Aesthetic appeal
As the markets for EVs and rechargeable batteries grow, the demand for cobalt is expected to surge to 220,000 metric tons by 2025, a 63% increase since 2017.
But can industry meet its demand with a supply of ethically mined cobalt?
A Precarious Supply Chain
In 2019, the DRC produced 70% of global mined cobalt—a majority of which went to China, the leading importer of mined cobalt and an exporter of refined cobalt.
Moreover, 8 of the 14 largest cobalt mines in the DRC are owned by Chinese companies, resulting in a highly controlled supply chain.
Why the Democratic Republic of Congo?
When it comes to cobalt reserves and concentrations, DRC looms over the rest of the world as a clear leader.
|Country||Cobalt reserves as of 2019 (tons)|
|Papua New Guinea||56,000|
|Rest of the World||500,000|
|World total (rounded)||7,000,000|
The African Copper Belt hosts the majority of the DRC’s cobalt deposits, where it is primarily mined as a by-product of copper and nickel mining.
Low labor costs, loose regulations, and poor governance in the DRC allow for the flourishing of artisanal mining and cheap sources of cobalt.
However, cobalt from the DRC is tainted by ethical and humanitarian issues, including:
- Child labor
- Hazardous artisanal mining
With the current supply chain of cobalt facing scrutiny and criticism, a transformation in the cobalt universe is well underway.
Cobalt’s Changing Landscape
As consumers become aware of the dirty costs of cobalt mining in the DRC, battery and EV manufacturing companies are looking for ethical sources.
Tesla, BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen are part of more than 380 companies that have committed to responsible sourcing through the Responsible Minerals Initiative. Responsible sourcing entails increasing supply chain transparency and searching for sources of cobalt outside the DRC.
Here’s how some companies are leading the way:
- Ford, Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem, and RCS Global are using blockchain technology to improve transparency and trace the sources of cobalt.
- BMW signed a $110 million deal for cobalt from Morocco’s Bou Azzar Mine, in an effort to avoid cobalt sourced from the DRC.
- Tesla agreed to buy 6,000 tonnes of cobalt annually from Glencore, a multinational company financing North America’s first cobalt refinery.
The U.S. recently added cobalt to its list of critical minerals—minerals for which it seeks independence from imports. The effort aims to reduce its net import reliance of 78% for cobalt, encouraging more localized and reliable production.
As a result of these shifts, the entire supply chain is beginning to reconsider cobalt sources in better-managed jurisdictions.
Cobalt Beyond the Congo: Why Not North America?
North America has comparable sources of cobalt to what is found in the Congo. As of 2019, Canada had 230,000 tons in cobalt reserves, whereas the U.S. had 55,000 tons.
Ontario hosts some high-grade cobalt deposits such as the Cobalt Silver Queen, Nova Scotia, Drummond, Nipissing, and Cobalt Lode mines.
In fact, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and other billionaires from the Breakthrough Energy Fund are already fueling the exploration and development of cobalt deposits in North America.
Unsung North American Potential
The United States is home to 60 identified deposits of cobalt. These sources along with Canada’s deposits, should provide explorers and miners with a massive opportunity to develop cobalt mining in North America.
As the EV industry booms with gigafactories in construction, will North American carmakers and other battery makers be able to pivot to ethical, local raw materials?
5 Trends Shaping the Future of eCommerce
eCommerce is evolving almost as fast as it’s growing. Here’s a look at five major trends that are shaping the future of the eCommerce market.
5 Trends Shaping the Future of eCommerce
The global eCommerce market is growing at a rapid pace.
By 2025, it’s expected to reach $4.2 trillion in revenue. But the fast-growing eCommerce market is evolving just as quickly as it’s expanding. And because of rapid innovation in this space, tomorrow’s eCommerce landscape could look vastly different from today’s.
While we can’t predict the future, there are some telling signs of what’s to come. This graphic sponsored by Logiq explores five emerging trends that are transforming the future of eCommerce.
#1: Omnichannel Shopping
These days, a majority of consumers research a brand online before they set foot in a physical store. Because the customer journey now has a myriad of touchpoints across various devices, it’s important that businesses fully integrate their channels to provide a frictionless, holistic shopping experience.
That’s what omnichannel shopping aims to do—seamlessly integrate a company’s physical and online channels. When done correctly, omnichannel strategies can be valuable revenue drivers. In fact, according to research by Google, omnichannel strategies can help generate an estimated 80% of a business’s in-store visits.
#2: AI and AR
Artificial intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) are transforming the online shopping experience, with things like:
- AI-enabled chatbots
- Virtual assistants
- AI-enabled personalized shopping
- AR-apps that help replicate the physical world online
Ideally, these applications provide an easier, more enjoyable shopping experience for consumers. AI and AR technologies are impressive on their own, but when combined, they leverage each other’s strengths to provide an elevated shopping experience.
For instance, an AI and AR-enabled app could use speech recognition to listen to what you’re saying, and then render an image right in front of your eyes.
#3: New Payment Options
In general, technological innovation is aimed at making the online shopping experience as seamless as possible. And payment is an important part of that process, which is why it’s crucial that businesses provide customers a variety of payment options at checkout, to reduce cart abandonment. Some payment options include:
- Digital wallets
- Mobile payments
Cryptocurrency is especially trendy, as companies become increasingly more open to blockchain tech and cryptocurrency as payment.
#4: Rise of Visual Commerce
We’re living in a world of information overload, meaning brands are constantly competing for consumers’ attention. That’s why visual communication is more important than ever.
Businesses are using visual tactics like high-quality photography, videos, and AR to keep customers engaged.
Just like omnichannel strategies, visual commerce can help significantly increase revenue. According to research by Shopify, customers that viewed a product in AR were 65% more likely to make a purchase.
#5: Data-Driven, Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing is when businesses adjust pricing to reflect consumer demand. While it’s not a new phenomenon, AI and new technology have made it more accurate, and accessible.
Companies like Amazon have already implemented tech that helps the company optimize its pricing strategies, and other businesses that follow suit could see a boost in earnings.
How Companies Can Stay Competitive
The eCommerce market is rapidly growing, and changing just as quickly. Because of this, companies don’t always have the resources to stay ahead of the curve. But Logiq can help.
Logiq is an American-based global provider of eCommerce solutions, helping companies step up their eCommerce offerings. Click here to learn more about Logiq.
The Genomic Revolution: Why Investors Are Paying Attention
Faster cancer detection. Tracking disease. Gene editing. All three are driven by the genomic revolution. Here’s why it’s important now.
The Genomic Revolution: Why Investors Are Paying Attention
At the center of the genomic revolution is big data and DNA.
The implications are vast. With recent advancements, faster cancer detection is within reach, potentially saving thousands of lives each year. An initial research study shows this technology could save 66,000 live annually in the U.S. alone.
What’s more, genomic innovation goes beyond just cancer detection. Today it spans a variety of innovations, from gene editing to anti-cancer drugs.
In this graphic from MSCI, we look at four reasons why the genomics sector is positioned for growth thanks to powerful applications in medicine.
What is the Genomic Revolution?
To start, the genomic revolution focuses on the study of the human genome, a human (or organism’s) complete set of DNA.
A human consists of 23 pairs of chromosomes and 24,000 genes. Taken together, the human genetic code equals three billion DNA letters. Since most ailments have a link to our genetic condition, genomics involves the editing, mapping, and function of a genome.
With genomic innovation, large-scale applications of diagnostics and decision-making tools are made possible for a wide range of diseases.
4 Ways the Genomic Revolution is Changing Medicine
Over the last century, the field of genomics has advanced faster than any other life sciences discipline.
The hallmark achievement is the Human Genome Project completed in 2001. Since then, scientists have analyzed thousands of people’s genes to identify the cause of heart disease, cancer, and other fatal afflictions.
Here are four areas where genomic innovation is making a big difference in the medical field.
1. Gene Editing
Gene editing enables scientists to alter someone’s DNA, such as eye color. Broadly speaking, gene editing involves cutting DNA at a certain point and adding to, removing, or replacing this DNA.
For instance, gene editing enables living drugs. As the name suggests, living drugs are made from living organisms that harness a body’s immune system or other bodily process, and uses them to fight disease.
Based on analysis from ARK Invest, living drugs have a potential $200 billion addressable market.
2. Cancer Detection
Multi-cancer screening, supported by genomic sequencing and liquid biopsies, is projected to prevent more deaths from cancer than any other medical innovation.
Through a single blood test, multiple types of cancer can be detected early through synthetic biology advancements. Scientists use genomic sequencing (also referred to as DNA sequencing) to identify the genetic makeup of an organism, or a change in a gene which may lead to cancer.
Critically, screening costs are dropping rapidly, from $30,000 in 2015 to $1,500 in 2021. The combination of these factors is spurring a potential $150 billion market. This could be revolutionary for healthcare by shifting from a treatment-based model to a more preventative one in the future.
3. DNA Sequencing
One modern form of DNA sequencing is long-read DNA sequencing. With long-read DNA sequencing, scientists can identify genetic sequences faster and more affordably.
For these reasons, long-read DNA sequencing is projected to grow to a $5 billion market, growing at a 82% annual rate.
4. Agricultural Biology
Finally, the genomic revolution is making strides in agricultural biology. Here, research is looking at how to reduce the cost of producing crops, improving plant breeding, and enhancing quality.
One study shows that genomic advances in agriculture have led to six-fold increases in income for some farmers.
Investing in the Genomic Revolution
A number of genomic-focused companies have shown promising returns.
This can be illustrated by the MSCI ACWI Genomic Innovation Index, which has outperformed the benchmark by nearly 50% since 2013. The index, which was developed with ARK Invest, comprises roughly 250 companies who are working in the field of genomic innovation. In 2020 alone, the index returned over 43%.
From diagnostics to prevention, the genomic revolution is breaking ground in scalable solutions for global health. Investment opportunities are expected to follow.
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