Cobalt can be found in products everywhere, for instance in high performance rechargeable batteries, catalysts for the production of low sulphur fuels and vehicle tires. The world’s largest cobalt refinery is Freeport Cobalt in Kokkola on the Finnish west coast.
“Although consumers don’t always realise where our products are used, they regularly use things that have either been manufactured using cobalt or contain small amounts of the element. This could be a mobile device with a rechargeable battery, blue coloured glassware, plastic drinking bottles, hard metal drills or the fuel for the car,” says Jöran Sopo, Managing Director.
Freeport Cobalt Oy employs 420 people in Kokkola plus approximately 110 interns during the summer months. A new product expansion project currently being built for the manufacture of cobalt-based chemicals (used in the rechargeable lithium-ion battery market) is now close to completion. This has generated roughly 40 new employment opportunities.
“During the recent years we have invested quite heavily in new product development and expanded the manufacturing capability of battery materials containing cobalt. Currently our focus is on ramping up and selling the capacity that has been built,” says Sopo.
In 2013, Freeport Cobalt was acquired by Freeport-McMoRan Inc. Since then, a number of changes have been made in the day to day work at the plant. One such change is a major upgrade of the cobalt refining process, where cobalt ore, sourced from the mine operated by the parent company, is purified.
“This upgrade improves the Kokkola plant’s capacity, reduces the consumption of chemicals and energy and generates less waste. This has been one of our long-term objectives. Now we have the capability to efficiently execute our cobalt business strategy; from mine to market,” says Sopo.
Turnover 2014: €320 million
Number of employees: 420
Major markets: Worldwide
Parent company: Freeport-McMoRan Inc.