New regulations on cobalt salts threaten to undermine the EU’s push for an independent battery supply chain.
The regulations, proposed by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), would require companies handling cobalt salts to pay for the registration and use of the chemicals under REACH regulations and implement stringent safety measures to protect employees against exposure because of cancer risks. The salts include cobalt sulphate, cobalt dinitrate, cobalt dichloride, cobalt carbonate and cobalt di(acetate).
The ECHA Socio-economic Analysis Committee (SEAC) is meeting from 7-18 September to decide whether to proceed with the recommendations. They are widely expected to accept the scientists’ advice. It would then be up to the European Commission to decide whether to implement them, with October the likely date for a final decision. Any regulations would have an 18-24 month implementation period.
While not amounting to a ban on the products, market participants warned that it could exclude all but the largest companies — such as Umicore and BASF — from handling cobalt chemicals and undermine Europe’s efforts to establish a battery supply chain, because the high costs involved would exclude smaller players and discourage investment.
Argus Media, 11 September 2020