Sustainably closing the loop for cobalt powder in hard metals

Umicore.com

Did you know that approximately 75% of today’s 7000 tons of cobalt powder produced annually is 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 its 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 thus are considered of high importance to the economy and present a high supply risk for the EU. 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 of 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. Today Umicore delivers cobalt powder globally with an average of 30% recycled content. Having recycled volumes in our portfolio also gives us the advantage to secure supply for our growth strategy in cobalt activities. 
 
As supplying cobalt powder from recycling alone is not a possibility, we need to combine it with primary cobalt sources and Umicore is the first company to voluntarily commit to excluding unethically mined cobalt from artisanal and small-scale mining from our supply chain. We are the first supplier to put in place a Sustainable Procurement Framework for Cobalt which is yearly verified by a third party, guaranteeing that our cobalt supply follows environmental performance, health and safety and business integrity.  
 
At Umicore we turn sustainability into a greater competitive edge by closing the cobalt powder loop, combining our long-standing know-how in recycling with our experience in ethical sourcing.  

×

      Umicore uses certain monitoring and tracking technologies such as cookies. These technologies are used in order to maintain, provide and improve our services on an ongoing basis, and in order to provide our web visitors with a better experience.

      By clicking on the "Accept all" button you agree to the use of these cookies while using the website. For further information regarding how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please see section 11 of our website privacy notice

          Necessary cookies are essential and help you navigate our website. This helps to support security and basic functionality and are necessary for the proper operation of our website, so if you block these cookies we cannot guarantee your use or the security during your visit.

          Cookies that help us to understand the behaviour of users of our website. This allows us to continuously improve our website to provide the best information in support of our project aims. These cookies also help us understand the effectiveness of our website. For instance these cookies tell us which pages visitors go to most often and if they get error messages from web pages.

          Cookies that deliver content to you based on your interests, which are assumed from your browsing history. Most Targeting Cookies track users via their IP address and, thus, may collect some Personal Data. Personal Data collected by Targeting Cookies may be shared with third parties, such as advertisers.