Cobalt compounds have been used in coloured glass for at least 4000 years but the metal has been produced industrially only during this century. It is a widely distributed but relatively uncommon element in the earth’s crust. It occurs biologically in vitamin B12, which contains Co3+ bonded octahedrally to five nitrogen atoms (four from pyrroline rings and one from a benzimidazole ring) and the carbon atom of a CN− group. The industrial extraction of the metal is usually an ancillary process to the extraction of other metals such as copper and lead.
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