The U.S. Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute is giving Toronto-based junior First Cobalt (TSXV: FCC; US-OTC: FTSSF) US$600,000 over two years for research on mineral processing techniques for the company’s Iron Creek copper-cobalt project in Idaho.
The funding, matched by the company, will be spent on “identifying more efficient and environmentally friendly methods to process cobalt ore from pyrite material,” First Cobalt announced in a press release, and will be part of a “collaborative research effort” with the Colorado School of Mines’ Kroll Institute for Extractive Metallurgy (KIEM).
Trent Mell, First Cobalt’s president and CEO, said the company plans to build an underground mine and processing facility at Iron Creek and “can take advantage of new and emerging technologies that reduce waste material coming out of the mine and reduce the amount of energy required to process the ore.”
Cobalt is on the U.S. government’s list of 35 critical elements that are essential to the country’s economy and national security. According to First Cobalt, all of the cobalt used in the U.S. to make batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) is imported.
First Cobalt has shipped more than 200 kilograms of drill core material to the Colorado School of Mines to start working on the project and plans to ship a 2,000 kg sample over the summer to “test ore sorting methods that potentially separate cobalt and copper ore from waste host rocks.” The results then will be compared with conventional processing systems.
Iron Creek has indicated resources of 2.2 million tonnes grading 0.26% cobalt and 0.61% copper (0.32% cobalt equivalent) for 12.3 million lb. of contained cobalt and inferred resources of 2.7 million tonnes averaging 0.22% cobalt and 0.68% cobalt (0.28% cobalt equivalent) for 12.7 million lb. cobalt. The resource estimate used a 0.18% cobalt-equivalent cut-off grade.
The Iron Creek property in Idaho’s Lemhi county, consists of mining patents and exploration claims over 1,698 acres (687 hectares). First Cobalt has completed more than 29,000 metres at the project.
In addition to Iron Creek, First Cobalt owns a permitted cobalt refinery in Ontario, Canada.
At presstime in Toronto First Cobalt was trading at 36.5¢ per share within a 52-week range of 11.5¢ and 46¢. It has about 493 million common shares outstanding for a market cap of roughly $180 million.