Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Cobalt miners sorting minerals on the road between Kolwezi and Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on February 15, 2018. Photo: Samir Tounsi/AFP via Getty Images

Sourcing of cobalt, a material commonly used in lithium ion batteries for portable electronics and electronic vehicles, has come under intense scrutiny lately for economic, political and geographical reasons. Most notably, 58% of the world's cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where production is attended by political unrest and reported human rights violations, including child labor.

The big picture: While significant efforts to reduce cobalt quantities in EV batteries are underway, they are still very much a work in progress. Global demand for cobalt has nearly quadrupled in the past 5 years as a result of increased demand for rechargeable batteries, and is expected to keep rising.

Several battery companies have come out to declare their intention to cut down on cobalt usage. Tesla, for example, has already made progress toward reducing cobalt in their EVs by an estimated 60%, from 11 to 4.5 kilograms per car, and promises that the next generation will contain none at all.

Yes, but: Substituting cobalt in a rechargeable battery is not a simple switch, as alternative battery chemistries do not yet attain the same energy and power performance as a cobalt-containing electrode. Cobalt currently provides the highest levels of energy, power and stability — all characteristics required for electric vehicle batteries, and especially for drivers with range anxiety. While R&D efforts along the EV battery supply chain are focusing on finding suitable or even superior materials, they will still have to undergo rigorous testing requirements and new manufacturing developments before mass production.

What's next: Battery manufactures will continue reducing cobalt in their battery chemistries, but replacing cobalt completely will likely take several years. In the meantime, Global Energy Metals predicts that global annual cobalt demand will exceed 120,000 tons by 2020, with roughly 60% going toward battery production. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence also predicts cobalt demand to triple by 2026 because of increased EV manufacturing.

Maggie Teliska is a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property, an intellectual property law firm. She is also a member ofGLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.

Go deeper

8 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: America looks for the exits after a year of COVID

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A year after the coronavirus abruptly shut down much of the country, Americans are watching for a clear signal of when the pandemic will be over — and most won't be ready to ditch the masks and social distancing until they get it, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
9 mins ago - Health

Many vulnerable Americans have received the coronavirus vaccine

Data: CDC, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than two-thirds of Americans 75 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, as have more than half of those 65-74, per CDC data.

Why it matters: Any future surge in cases almost certainly wouldn't be as deadly as previous waves, because older people are the most likely to die from the virus.

2 hours ago - World

Report: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs

The scene in 2019 of a site believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese authorities have breached "each and every act prohibited" under the UN Genocide Convention over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang province, an independent report published Tuesday alleges.

Why it matters: D.C. think-tank the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, which released the report, said in a statement the conclusions by dozens of experts in war crimes, human rights and international law are "clear and convincing": The ruling Chinese Communist Party bears responsibility.