- New drilling initiative using predictive technologies now underway
- Company aims to generate cash flow by processing available surface minerals
- Plans to scale up further through acquisition
Algorithms are ruling the world, according to a Guardian feature (http://nnw.fm/dRc9M), helping a variety of organizations sift through massive amounts of data and distill that data into knowledge. On financial trading platforms and dating sites, the algorithm reigns, using data analysis to seize investment opportunities and make matches. These powerful new technologies are transforming society. If they can guide our investments and find us soulmates, both very difficult undertakings, then surely they can discover cobalt in cobalt-rich terrain. That’s the line of thought you’ll find at First Cobalt Corp. (OTCQB: FTSSF) (TSX.V: FCC). In a recent interview, Trent Mell, CEO of the junior miner, talked about the company’s use of predictive analytics in its exploration activities and much more (http://nnw.fm/Z8Op6).
“We’re going to apply some new techniques to an old camp,” he stated. “Taking data from a century of mining… developing 3D models… applying algorithms and predictive technologies. Let’s look at what was mined in the past, what wasn’t mined… And see if we can predict where future mines should be.”
The old camp Mell was referring to is Cobalt Camp, home to rich mineral deposits. Cobalt was first discovered there in the 1880s but its use as a coloring agent was not lucrative enough to arouse commercial interest. As late as 1916, total cobalt output was only 554 tons of which 400 tons were produced as oxides for colorings. Instead, the focus was on silver mining, and, by 1908, the camp had become the world’s largest producer. Cobalt’s role in ancient cultures is as well documented as that of silver. Glazes containing cobalt have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and cobalt colored pottery dating back a millennium has been unearthed in China. The metal was isolated in 1735 by G. Brandt, a Swedish scientist.
First Cobalt’s name reveals its mission: to be the first to discover a meaningful new supply of cobalt. It is a mission which has taken on urgency because of the present supply shortfall of cobalt, a deficit driven by the strong demand for electric vehicles (EVs). The company has already crossed one milestone, which was to be the world’s largest pure play cobalt explorer. It intends to use that scale to go out and find meaningful deposits to satisfy the shortage that it anticipates will continue for the next several years.
First Cobalt now controls about half of the Canadian Cobalt Camp, an area that contains some 50 past producing mines. It plans to commence drilling and testing on 15 of those, hoping to develop a clearer picture of potential by year-end. A 26,500 meter, $7 million drill program announced earlier this year is designed to test near-surface mineralization of 15 past-producing mines that have never been assessed for their cobalt content. Recent results in the Cobalt North area of the Cobalt Camp indicate a potential zone of cobalt mineralization that can be tracked across more than 100 meters. This initiative is the first part of First Cobalt’s winning strategic trifecta.
First Cobalt will also engage in mineral processing. It expects to utilize its mill and refining facilities on surface material on the site. Studies are now underway on muck pile and waste rock material found throughout the Cobalt Camp. The muck pile sampling program was launched in 2017, while waste rock material and mill residue piles near the company’s mill are being studied in a separate program. The company is assessing whether the mill facility could be relocated and reactivated at the permitted First Cobalt Refinery Complex to generate early cash flow from the production of a saleable concentrate. Further processing of the concentrate into refined battery materials may also be possible.
“The last part of the plan is going to be opportunistic,” Mell continued. “We are going to look for growth opportunities. Are there assets in North America that we can roll into our company… to grow the platform and get ourselves to production faster?”
If First Cobalt’s history is anything to go by, the answer to that question is undoubtedly in the affirmative. The company recently announced a friendly merger with US Cobalt, Inc. (TSX-V: USCO, OTCQB: USCFF) (http://nnw.fm/H4uh4). US Cobalt’s primary asset is the Iron Creek cobalt project in Idaho, which has a historic mineral resource estimate (non-compliant with NI 43-101) of 1.3 million tons grading 0.59 percent cobalt and 0.3 percent copper. A 10,700-meter drill program was recently completed at Iron Creek to confirm this historic estimate, and a current mineral resource estimate is expected during 2018. US Cobalt’s security holders will vote on the proposed transaction on May 17, 2018.
For more information, please visit http://nnw.fm/FTSSF
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