- Company is largest landowner in renowned, historically productive Canadian Cobalt Camp
- Cobalt price has risen four-fold during past two years amid worldwide demand for EVs
- More than half of all auto sales expected to be EVs two decades from now
Global society’s growing dependence on smartphones and other new technology, as nearly essential elements of daily routine, has become the foil of comedy platforms and reformative movements that offer a getaway from modern connectivity, but there’s no denying the importance of Internet-enabled tech gadgets to consumers, as well as the industries that supply them. That’s especially visible in the international rush to secure supplies of cobalt, a rare mineral that helped revolutionize the way high-tech battery cathodes move electrons in a more efficient way to minimize overheating problems. Amid the trend, Canadian company First Cobalt Corp. (TSX.V: FCC) (OTCQB: FTSSF) is pursuing its goal of becoming the largest pure-play cobalt exploration and development company in the world.
The progression in cobalt interest has been evident as cobalt prices made a four-fold increase from their February 2016 level, rising from $21,750 per ton to a record $84,250 on March 8, when they plateaued for several days. A worldwide interest in increasing electric vehicle battery-power use as an alternative to fossil fuels has been the primary impetus behind the rising prices. At the same time, the metal has become harder to find, especially as some auto and electronics manufacturers have tried to secure their own supplies by signing long-term deals with miners. The rising demand positions First Cobalt to, potentially, relieve some of the supply pressure as it explores its holdings in Canada’s most renowned cobalt region.
By 2040, more than half of global auto sales are expected to be climate-friendly electric vehicles, as compared with just one percent last year when sales surged above one million, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (http://nnw.fm/D2iTG). The company’s analysts predict that boom will boost the number of EVs on the road from around three million today to more than 530 million in 2040, surpassing 15 percent of the total being driven worldwide in the 2030s (http://nnw.fm/R001u).
Many of the world’s tech-based industries have been hindered by their dependence on cobalt mined as a “conflict” metal commodity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — an African nation beset by political difficulties and child labor accusations as it exploits its mineral-rich lands for foreign consumers. That includes about two-thirds of the entire cobalt supply worldwide, which continues to flow from the DRC despite the controversies.
Adding to the difficulties, the DRC’s government finalized a policy in March that increases taxes and royalties on foreign mining operations, doubling government royalties on all minerals, with the potential to more than quadruple those royalties if the country classifies a mineral as a ‘strategic substance’. That could easily include cobalt, given the DRC’s significant corner on the mineral, which is used prominently in high-tech lithium-ion battery cathodes.
First Cobalt has managed to sidestep the ethical concerns surrounding Central African cobalt mining, as well as the current budgetary difficulties brought on by the DRC’s fiscal policy changes, when the company made a strategic decision last year to abandon plans for an alliance over seven cobalt exploration properties in the Congolese region. The company instead decided to focus its efforts on the renowned Cobalt Camp in Ontario, where it has become the largest landowner in a region that historically produced the mineral and left about 50 sites that form “advanced exploration targets ready for immediate work” (http://nnw.fm/r6Ilb). Its ethical advantage also has the potential to translate into economic revitalization of the nearby community aptly named Cobalt.
First Cobalt was also named a 2018 TSX Venture 50 company in an annual ranking of the top 50 publicly traded companies on the TSX Venture Exchange, based on its assessment as a leader in creating shareholder value through three equally weighted criteria: market capitalization growth, share price appreciation and trading volume. First Cobalt was ranked fourth among 1,200 mining companies listed on the TSX Venture Exchange.
For more information, visit the company’s website at http://nnw.fm/FTSSF
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