First Cobalt says refinery expansion study in final stages

The First Cobalt Refinery is located in Ontario, Canada. (Image courtesy of First Cobalt)

The feasibility study for an expansion of First Cobalt’s (TSX-V:FCC) refinery is in the final stages and is expected to be concluded in the coming weeks, the company said in its latest update.

In September 2019, First Cobalt commenced engineering studies, including an interim scenario for restarting the refinery at its current capacity as well as a definitive feasibility study on expanding the refinery. A third study will examine a scenario of first restarting production at current capacity and subsequently increasing throughput.

Once these studies are complete, the company plans to continue with test work, further development of detailed engineering, and work with governments to ensure permits are in place. Discussions with potential offtake partners are also underway.

First Cobalt plans to initially recommission the refinery in partnership with Glencore in the fourth quarter and then expand production as early as the second half of 2021. The company says it still has funds remaining from the Glencore loan proceeds to continue work on the refinery.

Commenting on whether the coronavirus outbreak and its downward pressure on commodities would affect operations, president and CEO Trent Mell stated that his company had implemented modified work practices with “minimal impact on its schedule.”

A scoping study released in May 2019 concluded that the refinery is capable of producing over 25,000 tonnes of battery-grade cobalt sulphate per year for the electric vehicle industry. The initial restart is only designated to produce 2,000 to 2,500 tonnes per year.

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