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Ethical Supply: The Search for Cobalt Beyond the Congo

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The following content is sponsored by Fuse Cobalt.

Ethical Supply: The Search for Cobalt Beyond the Congo

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.

CountryCobalt reserves as of 2019 (tons)
Congo (Kinshasa)3,600,000
Australia 1,200,000
Cuba500,000
Philippines260,000
Russia250,000
Canada230,000
Madagascar120,000
China80,000
Papua New Guinea56,000
United States55,000
South Africa50,000
Morocco18,000
Rest of the World500,000
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
  • Corruption
  • Crime
  • Poverty
  • 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.

Canadian Opportunity

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?

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Investing in Core Cybersecurity Technology

How is the growing cybersecurity market evolving? This graphic highlights the core technology developments and market growth underway.

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eToro Cybersecurity Investing Share

Investing in Core Cybersecurity Technology

The world has become increasingly more digital—with everything from customer data and employee services to entire businesses living on servers—and in recent years cybercrime has become a constant threat.

After large-scale breaches in government organisations around the world and huge public companies like Sony, cybersecurity is being taken more seriously. And since 2016, the U.S. has seen at least 1,000 data breaches every single year, exposing billions more records.

But in a field where new exploits are just around the corner, and with COVID-19 driving more employees and services remote than ever before, the need for better cybersecurity technology and investment has reached critical importance.

This infographic from eToro highlights developments in the cybersecurity market and how they affect companies, consumers, and investors.

The Cybersecurity Landscape

No person or organisation is immune to cybercrime, but some are targeted more frequently.

Across businesses, cybercriminals look for exploits in sectors with either the most to lose in terms of financials or data, or they target sectors with the least protection.

Unsurprisingly, the top industry targeted by cybercrime in 2020 was financial services. But cybercriminals also focused on manufacturing, energy, and retail—industries forced to quickly shift to digital channels because of the pandemic, but without the time to adapt and safeguard.

Top Industries Targeted by Cybercrime% Targeted (2020)
Financial Services23.0%
Manufacturing17.7%
Energy11.1%
Retail10.2%
Professional Services8.7%
Government7.9%
Healthcare6.6%
Media5.7%
Transportation5.1%
Education4.0%

Though targeting is inconsistent across industries, financial impact is significant across the board.

In Europe, the average annual cost inflicted by cybercrime for affected organisations in 2019 ranged from $8 million in Italy to $13 million in Germany. In the U.S., the average annual cost of cybercrime was over $27 million.

Organisation Base CountryAverage Annual Cost of Cybercrime (2019)
U.S.$27.37M
Japan$13.57M
Germany$13.12M
UK$11.46M
France$9.72M
Singapore$9.32M
Canada$9.25M
Spain$8.16M
Italy$8.01M
Brazil$7.24M
Australia$6.79M

But in terms of volume, the most common cybersecurity threat is faced by individuals instead of companies. In addition to being a common target for cybercriminals attempting to access company data, consumers faced four times as many attacks as enterprises in 2019.

The Future Cybersecurity Need

The growth of cybercrime activity and adjacent cybersecurity investment over the last few decades was already impressive, but a post-COVID world puts the digital market front and center.

In the U.S., the cybersecurity market was valued at $156.5 billion in 2019, with more than half of the market focused on services over software and hardware. In 2027, the market is estimated to be worth $326.4 billion, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10%, with the focus remaining the same.

The driver of software and hardware usage is consistent with more aspects of business and personal life digitising, but growth in services is aligned with the uncertainty of future cybersecurity issues.

Winning the Fight Against Cybercrime

Cybersecurity and cybercrime grow and build off each other in a never-ending cycle, driving a need for increased investment alongside them.

The Cybersecurity Technology Cycle:

  1. Increased cyber operations incidents: Cybersecurity operations incidents increase as a result of the overwhelming burden of complexity.
  2. Add technology: Vendors pitch new technology as the solution to cyber operations incidents.
  3. Add people and process: New technology requires more people and processes.
  4. Operational complexity increases: Interactions between technology, processes and people increase geometrically.
  5. Loss of process visibility and control: Fog of uncertainty develops, old management systems are overwhelmed.
  6. Poor human performance: Technology and process complexity decrease cybersecurity effectiveness.
  7. Repeat 1)

As new devices and software come online, old methods used by cybercriminals for infiltration or data gathering are replaced with new ones.

In 2019, the most commonly used initial access methods were phishing (31%), scan & exploit (30%) and unauthorised credential usage (29%), with compromise of mobile devices only accounting for 2%. With more work going offline and onto personal devices post-pandemic, and increasingly so post-digitisation, those numbers are likely to fluctuate.

That’s why the cybersecurity market is expected to keep growing in importance and size over the coming decade. An increasingly digital world is putting more risk online as well, and as many companies have learned the hard way, cybersecurity is a core technology worth investing in.

How Can Investors Take Part?

eToro’s CyberSecurity CopyPortfolio* gives investors direct access to the growing cybersecurity market.

Curated by experienced and proven investment teams, the thematic portfolio offers exposure to a broad range of developers and companies invested in cybersecurity, with no management fees.

*Your capital is at risk.
CopyPortfolios is a portfolio management product, provided by eToro Europe Ltd., which is authorised and regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.

CopyPortfolios should not be considered as exchange traded funds, nor as hedge funds.

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Canada’s Gold Exploration Frontier: The Abitibi Greenstone Belt

The Abitibi greenstone belt has produced more than 200 million ounces of gold since 1901. Learn more about the Abitibi belt’s history, mining activity, and potential for discovery in this infographic.

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abitibi greenstone belt

The Abitibi: Canada’s Largest Gold District

Canada is home to many great gold districts, but none come close to the Abitibi greenstone belt.

Having produced over 200 million ounces of gold since 1901, the Abitibi belt has etched its place as Canada’s largest gold district. Today, the region is bustling with exploration activity and hosts three of the country’s largest gold mines.

The above infographic from Maple Gold Mines showcases what makes the Abitibi a prolific gold district, from its history and geology to current activity and the potential for discovery.

The Abitibi Greenstone Belt: Remarkable Geology and History

Over 2.6 billion years ago, the Earth’s natural processes of creation and destruction resulted in the formation of metal-rich volcanic rocks and deformation zones that comprise the Abitibi greenstone belt.

The Abitibi belt hosts several economically viable deposits of gold, silver, zinc, iron, copper, and other base metals. The types of deposits found there include gold-rich quartz-carbonate veins, copper porphyries, and volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits.

Since mining began in the early 1900s, more than 124 mines have been set up in the Abitibi, and at least 15 of these have yielded over 3.5 million ounces of gold. What’s more, the total gold content of the belt, including past production and current reserves and resources, exceeds 300 million ounces.

The majority of the Abitibi’s rich gold deposits lie along fault lines in major deformation zones such as the Cadillac-Larder Lake zone and the Destor-Porcupine zone. These deposits are the foundations of gold camps that boast historical production numbers in excess of 10 million ounces of gold.

Despite a mining history that spans over 100 years, the Abitibi belt remains an active mining region with plenty of potential for new discoveries.

Mining Activity and the Potential for Discovery

With one end in Wawa, Ontario, and the other in Chibougamau, Quebec, the Abitibi’s location spans two jurisdictions that offer various advantages for mining companies.

Ontario and Quebec are two of Canada’s top mining jurisdictions with 2019 exploration expenditures of $432.4 million and $496.7 million, respectively. Mining companies in the Abitibi benefit not only from its rich resource endowment but also from the infrastructure, skilled workforces, and mining-friendly policies in its jurisdictions.

In fact, the Abitibi has produced around $12 billion in mining M&A transactions since 2013.

YearBuyer/InvestorTargetValue (US$, millions)
2014Yamana Gold, Agnico EagleOsisko Mining$3,600
2014Osisko Gold RoyaltiesVirginia Mines$424
2015Kirkland Lake GoldSt. Andrew Goldfields$134
2015GoldcorpProbe Mines$526
2016Tahoe ResourcesLake Shore Gold$538
2017Alamos GoldRichmont Mines Ltd$764
2017Eldorado GoldIntegra Gold$432
2017Osisko Gold RoyaltiesOrion Mine Finance*$864
2018Bonterra ResourcesMetanor Resources$60
2019Kirkland Lake GoldDetour Lake$3,700
2020Yamana GoldMonarch Gold*$114
2021Eldorado GoldQMX Gold$105

*Osisko Gold Royalties bought a portfolio of royalties from Orion Mine Finance and Yamana Gold bought two properties from Monarch Gold.

Back in 2014, Yamana Gold and Agnico Eagle each bought a 50% stake in Osisko Mining for a total of $3.6 billion to own Osisko’s flagship Canadian Malartic Mine, Canada’s largest gold mine. In a similarly-sized transaction in 2019, Kirkland Lake Gold acquired the Detour Lake mine—the second-largest gold mine in the country, for $3.7 billion. Both of these mines share a common home—the Abitibi greenstone belt.

The Legacy Continues

The Abitibi belt remains a hub for mining activity with Canada’s largest gold mines and 28 exploration projects on the hunt for precious metals and the next wave of M&A transactions.

With its rich history, remarkable geology, and plenty of gold left to discover, the Abitibi greenstone belt’s legacy as one of the world’s most important gold districts will continue.

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