Cobalt tolling service
Did you know that approximately 75% of today’s 7000 tons of fine cobalt powder produced annually are used in hard metals? Therefore, the recycling of cobalt in such applications is a win-win situation as it offers economic, environmental, and social benefits. At Umicore, in addition to offering recycling services to our customers, we supply ethically and responsibly sourced cobalt, closing the loop in a sustainable way.
Hard metals are mainly used in cutting and drilling tools for various machining and pressing applications, mainly for the automotive, electronics, and oil & gas industries. As their name denotes, hard metals are composed of a very robust and tough alloy combining fine tungsten carbide bonded with cobalt. Both raw materials are technology enablers and are thus considered of high importance to the economy. Moreover, tungsten is classified as a conflict mineral, and cobalt extraction can involve unsafe and unhealthy working conditions including child labor. Umicore believes that recycling is one of the key solutions to secure supply and ensure ethical supply, and we are the very first company to have established due diligence on our cobalt supply chain.
Recycling cobalt has many advantages for our customers. It not only maximizes efficiency but is also a more environmentally friendly choice with economic benefits over primary mined cobalt and guaranteed ethical supply. For the recycling of cobalt powder, we partner with tungsten specialists who first receive all the hard metal scraps and end-of-life waste materials to separate the two raw materials as the hard metals contain 80% tungsten carbide and 10% cobalt. Umicore then receives the cobalt sludges which are reprocessed to recover cobalt powder in its original form for supply back into the hard metals value chain.