LONDON - Indonesia became the world's second-largest cobalt supplier last year, behind top ranked Democratic Republic of Congo, as it accounted for almost 5% of global production of the battery material, according to data from UK-based Cobalt Institute.

Cobalt is a key ingredient for the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, sales of which are expected to accelerate over coming years as the auto industry moves to meet emissions targets.

Indonesia's production of cobalt surged to 9,500 tonnes in 2022 from 2,700 tonnes in 2021, according to the institute.

"Indonesia became the second largest cobalt producer, overtaking established producers including Australia and the Philippines," the Cobalt Institute said. "Indonesia has the potential to increase cobalt production by 10 times by 2030."

Australia produced 7,000 tonnes of cobalt last year and 5,900 tonnes in 2021 when it was the second largest producer. Output in the Philippines was 5,400 tonnes last year.

Total cobalt production last year was 198,000 tonnes. Congo's share of that was 145,000 tonnes of cobalt or 73%, the Cobalt Institute said in a release, adding that global demand rose 13% to 187,000 tonnes in 2022.

"Cobalt supply growth continued and demand stumbled, particularly for portable electronics... cobalt metal prices halved from the April peak to year end," the institute said.

CME Group's cobalt contract shows prices fell more than 60% to $15 a lb over the last year.

A breakdown of the data from the institute shows electric vehicles accounted for 74,000 tonnes or nearly 40% of total demand last year compared with 56,000 tonnes or 34% in 2021.

(Reporting by Pratima Desai; editing by Susan Fenton)