First Major Cobalt refinery expansion study

The feasibility study for an expansion of the Glencore-backed First Cobalt refinery, in Ontario, Canada, is in the final stages and will be concluded in the coming weeks.

Commenting on the current market developments, First Cobalt president and CEO Trent Mell said on Tuesday while the uncertainty owing to Covid-19 had put downward pressure on commodities, First Cobalt had implemented modified work practices that had minimal impact on its schedule.

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.

A scoping study released in May last year determined that the refinery, which was shut in 2015, could produce at an expanded rate of more than 25 000 t/y of battery-grade cobalt sulphate for the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

The initial restart will only produce 2 000 t/y to 2 500 t/y.

“The EV revolution is a generational megatrend that will continue to change the way we move around, regardless of short term market fluctuations. Cobalt remains essential to an electric future and our partnership with Glencore will be a competitive advantage as we move towards first production,” said Mell.

First Cobalt also assured stakeholders that it was well-capitalised with sufficient cash-on-hand to execute its objectives. It has enough cash to cover its operations for the next 12 months and has additional dedicated funds to advance work at the refinery.