Cobalt is the new diamond. Apparently, the significance of strong global demand for cobalt has not been lost on thieves.
According to Metal Bulletin, a heist of a Rotterdam warehouse earlier this month netted nearly $10 million worth of cobalt. The mineral– deemed “critical” by the U.S. Government, the European Commission and others–is used in batteries found in consumer electronics like cell phones and electric cars, among other modern applications.
The Rotterdam incident illustrates not only the growing awareness of the importance of cobalt and other critical minerals and REEs to global supply chains. If the theft of cobalt or other critical minerals becomes a more common occurrence, this and other security/supply chain risks could require that standards for securing critical minerals in transit and storage be updated to reflect emerging risks. In addition, the terms and pricing of insurance could be revised.
At this point, one or few reported new incidents of cobalt (or other critical minerals) thefts/security risks are insufficient to make any reasonable predictions as to what action would be reasonable. However, news of such incidents should be closely monitored by suppliers/exporters, buyers/importers, finance intermediaries, and logistics services providers. Related storage, transit and insurance practices and terms should be noted for review if and when circumstances appear to warrant such action.