The physical properties of cobalt are similar to those of iron and nickel. Cobalt can be found in plants and animals, as well as in the atmosphere, water, soil, and rocks. It could also enter another environment via wind-blown dust or rainwater washing down cobalt-containing soil and rock. 

Cobalt demand is divided into new and old economy drivers. New economy drivers include lithium-ion batteries and superalloys. Old economy drivers are typically industrial uses that include steels, tools, industrial chemicals and magnetic materials.