Power restored at First Cobalt’s Ontario refinery

First Cobalt (No.24 on PwC’s list of juniors) owns the only fully permitted cobalt refinery capable of producing battery grade material in North America. Credit: First Cobalt Corp

First Cobalt (TSXV:FCC) announced Thursday that power has been restored to its refinery north of Toronto, and the company has deployed a team of engineers and technicians to commence a field program to assess the condition of the refinery, which has been on care and maintenance since 2015.

The field program, which will run for the next six weeks, is in support of an ongoing definitive feasibility study (DFS) led by Ausenco Engineering Canada on a recommissioning and expansion of the existing refinery. The DFS is expected to be completed in Q1 2020.

A scoping study released in May concluded that First Cobalt’s refinery could be expanded from its current 12 tonne per day (tpd) throughput capacity to 55 tpd.

The plan is to recommission the refinery at 12 t/d in 2020, and then expand to 55 t/d the following year

The study and supporting metallurgical test work estimated that the refinery was capable of producing over 5,000 tonnes per year of battery-grade cobalt in sulphate for the electric vehicle industry at a capital cost of $37.5 million, which the company says could represent up to 5% of the global market for refined cobalt.

The current field program involves temporarily restoring power to the refinery to inspect and test all installed equipment and systems to gain a better understanding of their condition.

This phase of work will identify components that require upgrading or replacement prior to recommissioning the refinery. This allows for a greater level of confidence in the capital cost estimates included in the 55 tpd DFS and better prepare the company for a quick recommissioning of the refinery upon a formal restart decision.

The plan is to recommission the refinery at 12 t/d in 2020, and then expand to 55 t/d the following year.

First Cobalt has already received financial backing from Swiss mining giant Glencore to study recommissioning the refinery. Additional funding from Glencore is expected upon completion of the DFS for recommissioning and expanding the refinery.

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