First Cobalt advances Ontario-based refinery

First Cobalt’s cobalt refinery in northern Ontario. Credit: First Cobalt.First Cobalt’s cobalt refinery in northern Ontario. Credit: First Cobalt.

First Cobalt (TSXV: FCC; US-OTC: FTSSF) has released an update on the progress of recommissioning its cobalt refinery in partnership with Glencore (LON: GLEN).

The company expects to complete a prefeasibility study for a 12 tonnes per day restart scenario, as well as a second feasibility study for a 55 tonnes per day expansion in the first quarter of 2020. First Cobalt is evaluating recommissioning the refinery with Glencore at 12 tonnes per day in the fourth quarter of 2020 and expanding to 55 tonnes per day in the second half of 2021.

“With Glencore as our partner, our intention is to bring a reliable source of ethical cobalt to North America in 2020,” says Trent Mell, the company’s president and CEO.

Ausenco has assessed the equipment in the refinery, applying temporary power to instruments and evaluating control systems, and concluded most of the tanks and equipment are in serviceable condition.

Knight Piesold has completed geotechnical drilling to support the design work on a dry-stacked tailings facility for the 55 tonnes per day scenario.

Consultations are ongoing with authorities to ensure that the 12 tonnes per day scenario is compliant with existing permits. Additional baseline studies are underway to amend existing permits for the expansion.

Based on a scoping study released earlier this year, the capital cost of expanding the First Cobalt refinery to 55 tonnes per day came in at US$37.5 million. An estimated 25,000 tonnes per year of battery-grade cobalt sulfate could be produced.

The First Cobalt refinery is located in the Canadian cobalt camp in northern Ontario. It is the only permitted primary cobalt refinery in North America.

In addition, First Cobalt holds the Iron Creek cobalt project in Idaho, with inferred resources of 26.9 million tonnes at 0.11% cobalt equivalent for a total of 45 million lb. cobalt and 175 million lb. copper.

— This article was first published by our sister publication Canadian Mining Journal.


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