First Cobalt arranges refinery feedstock

·2 min read

TEMISKAMING SHORES – First Cobalt Corporation says it has secured long-term cobalt hydroxide feed arrangements with Glencore AG and IXM SA, a fully owned subsidiary of CMOC, which will provide 4,500 tonnes of contained cobalt per year to the First Cobalt Refinery starting in 2022.

Once it is operational, the First Cobalt Refinery will be “North America’s only producer of cobalt sulfate for the electric vehicle (EV) market,” said the company in a news release.

It went on to state that under the terms of a binding cobalt hydroxide supply contract, “Glencore AG will supply the First Cobalt Refinery from the KCC mining operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo for five years” starting in late 2022.

“First Cobalt has also signed a memorandum of understanding with IXM SA for cobalt from CMOC’s Tenke Fungurume mining operation in the (Congo) over the same time period. The company and IXM will work to complete a definitive contract.”

First Cobalt president and CEO Trent Mell said the arrangement was a “pivotal moment” in the company’s North American cobalt refining strategy.

“Our globally competitive cost structure and industry-leading (environmental) credentials put us in a strong position for a rapidly growing EV market,” he said in a statement.

“With feedstock arrangements in place, we can continue to advance our vision to create a new cobalt supply chain in North America. Electric vehicle sales in Europe were up more than 100 per cent in 2020 and the (United States) will be the next large market to take off.”

Mell added that First Cobalt is “now focused on offtake arrangements and the financing package, with the goal of commencing construction in mid-2021 and full commissioning in the second half of 2022.”

The company says Cobalt hydroxide will be purchased at prevailing market prices, “providing First Cobalt investors with exposure to the cobalt market and, by extension, a growing EV market.”

Together, the company says the arrangements will provide 90 per cent of the refinery’s annual contained cobalt capacity of 5,000 tonnes per annum.

The company also plans to purchase an additional 500 tonnes per annum of feed at a later date through contract or spot market purchases.

In December, the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario announced a joint $10-million investment in the First Cobalt Refinery, which will help accelerate the commissioning and expansion of the Temiskaming Shores facility.

The facility was permitted in 1996 with a nominal throughput of 12 tonnes per day and operated intermittently until 2015, producing cobalt, nickel and silver products.

According to First Cobalt Corporation, approximately 80 per cent of the global supply of cobalt sulfate comes from China and there is no production in North America.

Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker