- Despite recent market downturns in the cobalt sector, market analysts see more than 10 percent CAGR during coming decade
- Cobalt helps supply critical power to computer industry
- First Cobalt anticipates updated resource estimate completion in early 2019 for flagship United States cobalt exploration
- First Cobalt is also investigating options for restarting its refinery — the only permitted refinery capable of producing battery-grade cobalt in North America
A sustainable cobalt resource in North America could provide the world’s leading tech manufacturers with a conflict metal that’s free of the human rights concerns and profiteering politics evident in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 58 percent of global cobalt production originated last year (http://nnw.fm/cilV1) and as much as two-thirds of the world’s output has been recorded. Aggressive work by pure-play cobalt explorer First Cobalt Corp. (TSX.V: FCC) (OTCQX: FTSSF) (ASX: FCC) is making a commercial North American source look more and more like a possibility.
Cobalt is a rare yet necessary resource for modern computerized equipment, making up about 60 percent of the lithium cobaltate in the positive electrodes of the lithium-ion batteries that power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles and positioning it as a definitive element for the modern era.
After record price increases in 2017 and early 2018, cobalt’s market price has fallen as the DRC has output large quantities of the important metal (http://nnw.fm/hwe6L). However, the DRC’s internal problems are causing companies heartburn outside of the country, and market analysts predict that the metal’s revenues will continue to grow at a CAGR of 10.3 percent through 2026 (http://nnw.fm/H1nxA).
Despite the sketchy Congolese history of human rights concerns and its government’s recent decision to triple royalties imposed on the foreign corporations mining within its borders (http://nnw.fm/eXW8O), those mining companies continue to bank on the GDP-poor but mineral-rich nation. A cooperative group of electronic product companies recently launched a pilot project that is attempting to establish a conflict-free mining operation that might help assuage DRC-invested foreign countries’ consciences (http://nnw.fm/IiW6x).
The December 23 presidential elections in the Congo could further frustrate cobalt mining efforts, however, considering that the country has never experienced a peaceful transition of power (http://nnw.fm/2YtUs) and political instability tends to undermine a nation’s economic interests.
First Cobalt’s flagship Iron Creek project in central-eastern Idaho continues to expand as the company works to complete an updated resource estimate by early 2019. In a news release (http://nnw.fm/y0Luy), CEO Trent Mell said that drilling results announced shortly before Thanksgiving provide “further support for the development vision for the future of the project.”
A United States-based mining operation would be further supplemented by the only currently permitted cobalt refinery in North America capable of producing materials for lithium-ion batteries, which the company counts among its stable of resources in eastern Canada (http://nnw.fm/zs6Oo). First Cobalt has been in talks with third-party investors about the possibilities of funding the shuttered refinery’s restart operation and has been testing feedstock materials to see what will perform the best in the North American market (http://nnw.fm/5AWUe).
In the company’s back pocket is a third significant North American asset — the Greater Cobalt Project consisting of more than 50 mines that were historically productive in the Canadian Cobalt Camp of Ontario, near the refinery.
For more information, visit the company’s website at http://nnw.fm/FTSSF
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