The First Cobalt refinery expansion project will require initial capital injection of about $56m


Illustration of the expanded First Cobalt Refinery in Canada. (Credit: First Cobalt Corp)

Canada-based mining firm First Cobalt has launched $2.1m work programme to advance its hydrometallurgical cobalt refinery located north of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.

The programme involves preparing and filing permit amendments to expand the refinery’s design rate of 25,000 tonnes per annum of cobalt sulphate, and undertake additional metallurgical test work to increase cobalt recoveries.

Planned to be completed in 90 days, the work programme will also include assessment of alternative approaches to manage effluent sodium levels to lower capital and operating costs.

First Cobalt will also conduct extend project economics assessment from 11 years to 17 years for the refinery to align with the phase 1 dry stack tailings design storage capacity.

First Cobalt president and CEO Trent Mell said: “This work will enable us to meet our commitments to shareholders and stakeholders to move the project forward in 2020.

“According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, there are currently no plans to commission new cobalt refineries outside of China other than First Cobalt.”

First Cobalt reports positive feasibility results on cobalt refinery expansion

Recently, First Cobalt has reported positive results from an independent feasibility study conducted on its cobalt refinery, confirming its suitability to treat cobalt hydroxide and produce a high purity, battery grade cobalt sulfate.

The expansion of the cobalt refinery, which is being carried out by First Cobalt in partnership with commodities trading giant Glencore, is expected to help North America reduce its reliance on supply from China.

First Cobalt Business Development Vice President Peter Campbell said: “The feasibility study that we released last week demonstrated very strong economics for an expanded First Cobalt Refinery producing cobalt sulfate for the battery market.

“The study also identified several opportunities that could further enhance project economics and today’s work program announcement intends to address several high impact opportunities over the next 90 days.”

According to First Cobalt, the project needs an initial capital injection of about $56m.

The First Cobalt refinery commenced operations in 1996 with a nominal throughput of 12 tonnes per day (tpd). It continued operations until 2015.