For the second time, First Cobalt announced that it has produced battery-grade cobalt sulphate, highlighting the ability of the flowsheet at its hydrometallugical refinery to treat different feedstocks.
The latest product, at 21.4% cobalt and with over 99.9% purity, exceeds the 20.5% cobalt reference grade for sulphate pricing and is derived from a cobalt alloy. Additional process adjustments are possible to meet offtake partner requirements.
Previously, in 2019, the company produced battery-grade cobalt sulphate at 20.8% cobalt, with over 99.9% purity, from a cobalt hydroxide feed.
“This is an excellent result. There were no surprises from this latest round of metallurgical testing and the few impurities remaining in the cobalt sulphate product were in line with expectations given the test process we followed,” Trent Mell, the company’s president and CEO, said in a release.
“Once we have settled on buyers for the product, we are confident that we can make a sulphate product that will meet the quality requirements of their batteries.”
Mell also added that the spread of covid-19 is not expected to impact the company’s strategic plans with a definitive agreement signed in August of 2019 with Glencore, which includes a framework for a fully funded and phased approach to recommissioning and expanding First Cobalt’s refinery in Ontario.
A feasibility study for an expansion of the refinery is in its final stages and is expected at the end of April.
The final decision as to whether put the facility back into production is dependent on the outcome of the study as well as the completion of a long-term feed supply agreement with Glencore.
The First Cobalt refinery is the only primary cobalt refinery in North America.
In September, First Cobalt started two engineering studies: a prefeasibility on restarting the refinery at its current 12 t/d capacity as well as a feasibility study on a capacity expansion to 55 t/d.
(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)