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Medical cobalt industry tackles supply shortage

Cobalt-60, which is used in the sterilization of medical equipment and in radiosurgery devices, is produced in nuclear reactors using cobalt targets in the form of pellets and slugs. The supply of the raw material has reduced. Since 2014, there have been disruptions to mining output owing to demand from other industries such as the electric vehicle industry.


Demand for medical equipment sterilization is rising owing to innovation in the development of new medical and pharmaceutical devices, expanding availability of healthcare services globally, an ageing population and an increase in chronic diseases, US-based sterilization provider Sotera Health said. Demand for sterilization of single-use medical equipment has accelerated in 2020 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.


To meet the increasing demands, through its Nordion subsidiary, Sotera has long-term contracts with three nuclear operators running to between 2024 and 2064 to procure cobalt-60 from 14 nuclear reactors at four plants in Canada and Russia by providing the cobalt targets. It acquires additional supply from reactors in Russia, China and India.


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Source: Argus Media