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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1977
Year 1977, Volume 1 (1977)

Sibley, Scott F.
Cobalt,   pp. 303-315 ff. PDF (1.6 MB)


Page 303

  303Cobalt 
By Scott F. Sibley1 
 There was a moderate increase in demand for cobalt in 1977 compared with
that of 1976. Total reported consumption of cebait in the United States was
16,577,000 pounds, a small increase over that of 1976. An increase in commercial
aircraft engine production accounted for the significant recovery in consumption
of superalloys from the relatively low levels of 1976. Consumer stocks reached
a record monthly high of 3.1 million pounds in August but declined in the
last quarter. 
 Zaire reportedly made increased use of the Tazara rail line linking Zambia,
Zaire's southern neighbor, with the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to
the east. However, the principal shipment route for Zairian 
copper, of which cobalt is a byproduct, was southerly, via Zambia, Southern
Rhodesia, and Botswana to the Republic of South Africa's port of East London.
Much of Zaire's cobalt production was also shipped to Zaire's own port of
Matadi on the Atlantic, a route that is much less vulnerable to disruption
than the southern route. 
 The cobalt stockpile goal of 85.4 million pounds announced by the General
Services Administration (GSA) in October 1976 was reaffirmed in October 1977,
subject to annual review. The actual stockpile inventory at yearend totaled
40.9 million pounds. Legislation regarding purchases or sales of critical
commodities for the stockpile was pending in Congress at yearend. 
Table 1.—Salient cobalt statistics 
(Thousand pounds of contained cobalt) 
1973 
1974 
1975 
1976 
1977 
United States: 
Consumption                       
Imports for consumption              
Stocks, Dec. 31: Consumer             
Price: Metal, per pound               
worldpmduction,mine                 
18,741 
19,238 
2,451 
$24543.10 
64,856 
18,861 
16,122 
2,047 
$31043.75 
68,090 
12,787 
6,608 
1,801 
$3.75-$4.00 
r68()()() 
16,482 
16,487 
3,180 
$4.00-$5.40 r62,394 
16,577 
17,548 
3,738 
$52046.40 
65,222 
~Revbad. 
S 
DOMESTIC PRODUCTION 
 Although no cobalt was produced from domestic mining operations in 1977,
AMAX Inc., recovered significant quantities from imported matte at its Port
Nickel refmery in Braithwaite, La. AMAX announced in October that production
at the refinery would be held to 75% of capacity. Nickel and cobalt production
were expected to be maintained at the reduced rate until mid1978, at which
time a review of the market 
situation was to be made to set production levels for the rest of 1978. The
move reportedly was made to avoid excessive inventories. Consequently, shipment
levels were expected to match production levels closely in 1977 and 1978.
According to AMAX's annual report, 487,000 pounds of cobalt were produced
at the facility in 1977. 
 AMAX Exploration, Inc., conducted the preliminary development phase of its
Min 


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