Although oil and gas are the most prominent topics in the Russian sanctions controversy, as oil is the most visible commodity to consumers, it’s important that sanctions also affect other Russian commodities. Russia has 4 percent global cobalt production and 11% of the nickel production. Russia received the sanctions package. Cobalt prices rose from $74,000/ton to $82,000/tonSince the beginning of 2021, it has nearly doubled. Nickel has seen a sharp increase in its price since March’s beginning. It rose to $25,000/ton on March 1. Then, it soared to above $45,000 for a brief time before finally settling at $32,000.The nickel price has more than tripled since 2019.
The transition from carbon emission combustion engines to electric vehicles will be impeded by price increases and shortages of these commodities, as the average electric vehicle battery is less than a tenth of its capacity. Includes 80 pounds nickelAnd Cobalt can be purchased in 15-30 lb..A Russian oil crash would cause gas prices to rise, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean green energy adoptions will increase. Because electric cars and solar panels use nickel and other cobalt in varying amounts, so does wind turbines, which all use it. Electric vehicle batteries will likely become more expensive due to rising nickel prices and other inputs. These were becoming rapidly cheaper over the past decade. To not get more affordable after 2024.
As gas prices rise, so will the access to Russian goods.It is much easier to increase oil production that to increase nickel, cobalt or other metals production. America has at most 35 billion barrels worth of proven oil resources and OPEC can raise oil production when it pleases. PThe process of extracting more oil is quicker and easier than that of building a new nickel mine.
However, the U.S. does have another option for obtaining this resource. It’s nickel and cobalt you could count on in situations where other countries are having production problems due to war and internal strife. A mere 90 miles from the Florida coast.
This source is Cuba and American companies are prohibited from doing business with Cuba since the 1960s.
Cuba boasts the Fifth-largest nickel reserves worldwideAnd the third-largest cobalt reserves. Cuba’s nickel reserves are nearly as big as Russia’s (6.9 million to 5.5 million). Cuba also has twice the cobalt that Russia does. With the exception of Canada, which only has 40 percent of Cuba’s estimated reserves, all the top cobalt-producing countries—Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Russia, and the Philippines—are on the other side of the world from America’s manufacturing centers and therefore subject to potential supply chain disruption.
Because the DRC, Philippines and DRC have grave questions about their political stability and what the future holds for Russian commodity production as Putinism makes it the history’s most sanctioned economic system, three of these countries cannot be trusted to supply cobalt.
Nickel and cobalt will only become more essential over the next few years and be an integral part of American manufacturing and energy policies. They are disproportionately derived from resources that cannot be relied on for the long-term.
America’s available trade partner is within striking distance from Miami. It is among the best cobalt and nickel-rich countries in the globe. The bad news is the U.S. government’s continued shocking, stubborn refusal to take advantage of this golden opportunity because of anachronistic and always-harmful Cold War–era sanctions on Cuba.
Cold Warriors may be spooked at the idea of America joining hands with Latin American socialists to secure vital resources for a second Cold War against a far-right, ultra-nationalist Russian government. America must not be bound to policies from the 1960s. If we want to do business in the West Hemisphere, we should end Cuban sanctions and trade with all countries in the Western Hemisphere. Otherwise we may find out that the resources on which we depend cannot be reached in times of emergency. Fidel Castro has died; our sanctions policies should follow his lead.