First Cobalt favours quick restart of Canadian refinery

First Cobalt favours a quick restart of its idled cobalt refinery in Canada and will begin assessing the plant's condition next week, CEO Trent Mell said on Monday. The Toronto-based company has secured agreements under which commodity trader Glencore would supply cobalt feedstock to the plant, with initial production targeted of about 2 000 t/y to 2 500 t/y.

First Cobalt assembles study team for Ontario refinery

TSX-V-listed First Cobalt is aiming to deliver a definitive feasibility study (DFS) on the expansion of its Ontario refinery to 55 t/d by the first quarter of next year, the company said on Wednesday, announcing several key contracts for the feasibility study work. First Cobalt appointed Ausenco Engineering Canada to lead in the preparation of a DFS for a refinery restart at 55 t/d with contracts awarded to SGS for advanced metallurgical test work, Knight Piésold for tailings studies and Story Environmental for environmental and permitting aspects of the engineering studies.

ERG warns of possible cobalt supply crunch

At current cobalt prices, 20% to 30% of global mine supply is at risk of "disappearing" in 2020, warns diversified natural resources group Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) CEO Benedikt Sobotka. He points out that cobalt prices had declined significantly from January to early August this year, compared with 2018, during which prices averaged more than $35/lb.

Glencore pledges US$45 million for First Cobalt refinery

First Cobalt Corp. [FCC-TSXV; FTSSF-OTCQB; FCC-ASX] said Glencore AG, the Swiss commodities trading giant, has agreed provide a US$5 million loan to fund the recommissioning of the company’s Ontario cobalt refinery in North America.

Upon completion of a positive definitive feasibility study for a 55-tonnes-per day refinery expansion in the first quarter of 2020, and subject other terms and conditions, Glencore is prepared to advance an additional US$40 million to recommission and expand the refinery, said First Cobalt in an August 26, 2019 press release.

First Cobalt shares advanced on the news, rising 8.0% or $0.01 to 13.5 cents on volume of 967,581 shares traded. The shares are trading in a 52-week range of 12 cents and 49 cents.

First Cobalt said the US$5 million loan from Glencore will allow it to assess the suitability of the First Cobalt Refinery to treat Glencore material under a long-term supply agreement and to produce cobalt sulfate for the North American electric vehicle market

Phase two of the work plan envisions a recommissioning of the refinery at 12 tonnes per day in late 2020. Phase 3 would entail an expansion to 55 tonnes per day in 2021, using the existing site buildings and infrastructure.

A scoping study has previously estimated that if the First Cobalt Refinery operated at 55 tonnes per day, it could produce 5,000 tonnes of contained cobalt annually in sulfate, assuming a cobalt hydroxide feed, grading 30% cobalt.

First Cobalt is concluding a request for proposal (RFP) process for the feasibility study, metallurgy and environmental work with a view to commencing field work in September.

First Cobalt is the largest land owner in the historic Cobalt, northeast Ontario region. The company controls over 10,000 hectares of prospective land and 50 historic mines as well as a mill and a facility that it has described as the only permitted cobalt refinery in North America capable of producing battery metals.

Its Kerr Lake area properties include the past producing Juno, Drummond, Kerr Lake, Lawson and Conisil mines, all of which operated primarily as silver mines.

First Cobalt recently moved to enhance its position as a pure-play North American cobalt company by acquiring all of the issued and outstanding shares of US Cobalt Inc. The acquisition positioned First Cobalt as a leading non-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) cobalt company with North American projects located in close proximity to infrastructure as well as electric vehicle and technology hubs such as Michigan and California.

The combined entity has projects in Ontario and Idaho, which, once they reach the production stage, could be major cobalt suppliers for the electric vehicle market, which now depend mostly on supply from the DRC.

News of the latest Glencore agreement comes after Cobalt recently said it has successfully produced a battery grade cobalt sulfate.

“We are delighted to be working with Glencore to bring a domestic supply of battery grade cobalt to the North American market,” said First Cobalt President and CEO Trent Mell. “Subject to results achieved over the next six months, both parties would like to target first production in late 2020 and then commission an expanded 55 tpd facility in 2020,” he said.

“Cobalt prices have increased considerably over the past few weeks and the outlook for the electric vehicle market remains exceptionally strong.”

The First Cobalt Refinery is located in the Canadian Cobalt Camp, about 600 kilometres from the U.S. border. The facility is a hydrometallurgical refinery and has the potential to produce either cobalt sulfate for the lithium-ion battery market, or cobalt metal for the North American aerospace industry or other industrial military applications.

First Cobalt’s other flagship asset is the Iron Creek Cobalt project in Idaho. The project has an inferred mineral resource of 26.9 million tonnes, grading 0.11% cobalt equivalent, or an alternative underground only scenario of 4.4 million tonnes of grade 0.3% cobalt equivalent.

Glencore-backed Canada cobalt refinery aims for first production by late 2020

The refinery that TSX-V-listed First Cobalt plans to bring back to life in Canada with funding by global mining group Glencore, is set for first production late next year, the junior company said on Monday, announcing that it had entered into a definitive financing agreement with Glencore. The Swiss-headquartered major will be providing First Cobalt with a $5-million loan to complete advanced engineering, metallurgical testing, field work and permitting associated with a recommissioning and expansion of the refinery, in Ontario.

China Molybdenum says giant Congo copper mine is losing money

The Chinese operator of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s largest copper producer has told employees that it’s struggling to make money as the collapse of cobalt and copper prices hits miners in the country. China Molybdenum, which operates the giant Tenke Fungurume mine, said falling metal prices combined with higher taxes and royalties, and rising costs meant it was now in a “deficit zone". The company said it had also been hit by problems with production equipment.

China’s Huayou pulls out of Congo cobalt mine investment after price slump

China's biggest cobalt refiner Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt said on Thursday its overseas unit is pulling out of a deal to invest $66.3-million in a cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after prices of the metal slid. Huayou International Mining had agreed to take a 51% stake in Lucky Resources Holdings, whose wholly owned subsidiary New Minerals Investment holds the DRC's 13235 mining licence, in December 2017.

Glencore’s Congo stoppage offers jolt to ailing cobalt market

Glencore's plan to halt a fifth of the world’s cobalt production is set to offer some respite for prices of the battery material that cratered in the past year on a supply glut. The mining giant is set to close the Mutanda copper-and-cobalt facility in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of this year on lower prices and as costs at the project increased, according to a person familiar with the situation. Shares in major Chinese cobalt companies rallied on Wednesday. China Molybdenum, which also mines in the African nation, rose the most in four years in Hong Kong.

Jervois eyes 2021 cobalt production in Idaho

ASX-listed Jervois Mining on Thursday revealed plans to start cobalt concentrate production from its newly acquired Idaho cobalt operations by the second half of 2021, after closing the takeover of TSX-listed eCobalt. Jervois in April this year struck a friendly merger agreement with eCobalt, offering 1.65 common shares in Jervois for every eCobalt share held, representing an implied offer price of C$0.36 a eCobalt share.