- Increasing electric vehicle adoption driving demand for battery grade cobalt
- Multi-project, vertically integrated pure-play cobalt company
- Added two more drill rigs at Iron Creek Project in Idaho
- Second cobalt mineralization trend identified at Cobalt Camp in Canada
Recent developments indicate that First Cobalt Corp. (TSX.V: FCC) (OTCQX: FTSSF) appears to be having its cake and eating it too. In quick succession, the company announced, first, that it had identified a second cobalt mineralization trend in the Kerr Area of Cobalt Camp, Canada, and, then, that it had intensified exploration activities at its Iron Creek Project in Idaho, USA, by adding two more drill rigs. Together, these two announcements show that the company is cementing its position as a multi-project cobalt exploration company.
Demand for cobalt continues to rise as global adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) spreads; the metal is used in a variety of battery technologies. First Cobalt Corp., with headquarters in Canada, is a vertically integrated North American pure-play cobalt company with three significant North American assets: its Iron Creek Project in Idaho, which has a historic mineral resource estimate (non-compliant with NI 43-101); the Canadian Cobalt Camp, with more than 50 past producing mines; and the only permitted cobalt refinery in North America capable of producing battery materials.
Cobalt is used extensively in lithium battery technologies as a cathode material. It comprises about 10 percent of lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminum-oxide (NCA) batteries, 15 percent of lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide batteries (NMC) and 55 percent of lithium-cobalt-oxide (LCO), according to Statista (http://nnw.fm/v3fPW), and at least an additional 90,000 metric tons of the metal will be needed by 2025 to meet demand, according to Reuters, citing a report by Swiss bank UBS (http://nnw.fm/D7iPz).
The bank has based its forecast on expectations that EV penetration will grow to 16 percent globally, up from about one percent currently. As a result, First Cobalt’s identification of a second cobalt mineralization trend within the Kerr area is timely and raises the prospect of cobalt supplies nearer home. The Kerr mineralization is, fortuitously, near surface, extending over a 500-meter strike length. It is located parallel to and 400 meters north of the previously identified Kerr #2 Zone, which has been traced over 350 meters to date (http://nnw.fm/erP59).
Even closer to domestic industries is First Cobalt’s Iron Creek Cobalt Project in Idaho, where the company has accelerated exploration activity with two additional drill rigs (http://nnw.fm/V0V2w). A total of 81 holes and over 29,000 meters are planned, primarily from new surface drilling stations constructed earlier this year. Drilling will test down dip extensions of known cobalt-copper zones to over 300 meters below surface and test lateral strike over one kilometer to extend mineralization beyond the current 520 meters. The Iron Creek Project is located close to the centers of the U.S. automotive industry in California and Michigan.
First Cobalt’s assets also include a mill and the only permitted cobalt extraction refinery in North America capable of producing battery grade material. The First Cobalt Refinery is a hydrometallurgical cobalt-silver-nickel refinery located approximately five kilometers east of Cobalt, Ontario. The facility was commissioned in 1996 with a nominal throughput of 12 metric tons per day. A second autoclave was later added to the pressure oxidation circuit to double the throughput to 24 metric tons per day, but the second autoclave was never fully commissioned. The current footprint includes an empty feed warehouse that once housed a mill. The facility is located on a 40-acre property that can be expanded to 120 acres with two settling ponds and an autoclave pond.
First Cobalt is considering utilizing the mill and refining facilities on surface material at Cobalt Camp, where studies are now underway on muck pile and waste rock material. 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. First Cobalt 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.
For more information, visit the company’s website at http://nnw.fm/FTSSF
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