First Cobalt performs feasibility study for Canadian cobalt refinery expansion

First Cobalt has announced positive results from an independent feasibility study conducted on its permitted cobalt refinery in Ontario, Canada. The study contemplates expanding the existing facility and adapting it to be North America’s first producer of cobalt sulfate, an essential component in the manufacturing of EV batteries.

Study highlights:

  • Annual production of 25,000 tons of battery-grade cobalt sulfate from third-party feed, representing 5% of the total global refined cobalt market and 100% of North American cobalt sulfate supply
  • An initial capital estimate of $56 million and an operating cost estimate of $2.72/lb of cobalt produced, which would be competitive on global markets
  • $37 million in free cash flow forecasted during the first full year of production
  • Payback period of 1.8 years

Discussions are underway with Glencore on commercial arrangements, financing, and allocation of project economics.

Several EV manufacturers have expressed an interest in purchasing North American cobalt sulfate.

The company is evaluating several other plans that could enhance project economics further, including alternative approaches to managing elevated sodium concentrations prior to returning process water to the environment.

“This is an important milestone in our efforts to disrupt the existing cobalt supply chain,” said First Cobalt CEO Trent Mell. “With most of the world’s cobalt refining capacity located in China, there is strong demand for a North American alternative. Our focus will now turn to working with Glencore, our strategic partner, on implementing a new, ethical, and transparent supply chain.”

First Cobalt Refinery in Ontario, Canada
Current flow sheet configuration of the First Cobalt Refinery

Source: First Cobalt