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Metal traders group urges Germany to stockpile cobalt, cut reliance on Russia

By Reuters

LONDON – The German government should stockpile palladium and minor metals such as vanadium and cobalt as part of its raw materials strategy to reduce reliance on countries such as Russia, the Association of German Metal Traders (VDM) said on Thursday.

U.S. and European sanctions placed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine are disrupting supplies of critical raw materials used by Germany’s manufacturing industry.

“In view of geopolitical conflicts, it would be advisable to build up a stockpile of one’s own that can be supplied by the special metals trade and called up by the local industries when needed,” said Maarten Gassmann, head of the VDM Committee for Special Metals and Ferroalloys.

Russia is the world’s second-largest producer of vanadium used to make steel. It accounts for 17% of global vanadium supplies at 110,000 tonnes last year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Russia is also the world’s second-largest producer of cobalt and palladium with a 4% and 40% share, respectively.

Countries such as the United States, China and Japan already stockpile strategic minerals and metals.

“Unlike industrial metals such as copper, aluminium, zinc, nickel or lead, the availability of vanadium or palladium cannot be covered by the international metal exchanges,” VDM President Petra Zieringer said.