- As a critical element for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, global demand for cobalt is surging
- U.S. Cobalt acquisition will extend First Cobalt’s exploration reach into Idaho and Utah
- The Iron Creek project in Idaho presents a faster pathway to cobalt production
- First Cobalt owns the only cobalt refinery in North America permitted to produce battery-grade cobalt, now combined with new source opportunities to offer unique position in the industry
First Cobalt Corp. (TSX.V: FCC) (OTCQX: FTSSF) is set to accelerate its drive for the exploration and subsequent production of cobalt, a critical element used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. The demand for electric vehicles is predicted to surge following announcements in 2017 by China, France and the UK that they will aggressively phase out the manufacture of cars powered by fossil fuels to reduce harmful emissions.
On March 14, 2018, First Cobalt announced an arrangement transaction for the acquisition of all issued and outstanding shares of U.S. Cobalt. A meeting of U.S. Cobalt security holders will be held on May 17, 2018, to vote on the transaction, which has been unanimously recommended by U.S. Cobalt’s board of directors. It is anticipated that the acquisition will be completed by the end of May 2018.
Under this deal, First Cobalt will acquire U.S. Cobalt’s exploration properties in Idaho and Utah, and add to its current holdings of 50 mining properties in Cobalt, Ontario. First Cobalt is currently the largest cobalt explorer in North America and owns the only permitted cobalt refinery in the region capable of producing battery-grade cobalt. Its assets also include a mill located in the Cobalt Camp region of Ontario.
Currently, neither First Cobalt nor U.S. Cobalt is mining cobalt, and both companies are focusing on exploration. However, U.S. Cobalt’s Iron Creek mine in Idaho has the potential to reach production in a few years, ahead of First Cobalt’s work program in the Cobalt Camp. This has been the major attraction for the acquisition. In a recent interview, the CEO of First Cobalt, Trent Mell, said, “The Idaho project is at a more advanced stage than our work in the Cobalt Camp in Ontario. The appeal to us is that it is a faster pathway to production.”
First Cobalt’s ownership of the only permitted cobalt refinery in North America strengthens its position to take the lead in the production of battery-grade material. While many of the world’s cobalt producers have invested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), First Cobalt has made the strategic and ethical decision to develop its interests in North America. The DRC presents several ethical and operational problems for cobalt producers, including the use of child labor in its mines. The country is also politically unstable, prone to violent unrest and presents a significant risk to investment.
First Cobalt’s Mell added, “We foresee a shortage of cobalt over the next five years, yet there are few companies doing significant work to identify new sources of supply. This transaction creates a larger platform to discover and develop cobalt projects for the growing electric vehicle market by combining high-quality North American assets in two of the best cobalt jurisdictions outside the DRC.”
This latest acquisition will considerably strengthen the company’s position in the cobalt sector. With the only permitted cobalt refinery in North America, First Cobalt is the only company on the continent with the capability to produce battery-grade cobalt to satisfy the increasing demand for this critical metal. Combined with the new source opportunities represented by the U.S. Cobalt acquisition, it represents a supply/processing mix that stands out from all other companies.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.FirstCobalt.com
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