- Radioactivity detected in cobalt supplies from Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Cobalt demand set to rise as EV production continues upward trajectory
- First Cobalt’s Idaho Iron Creek Project reports encouraging estimates
The decision by First Cobalt Corp. (TSX.V: FCC) (OTCQX: FTSSF) (ASX: FCC) to shed its cobalt assets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and focus on North America is looking increasing prescient. Cobalt operations in the Congo, already tainted by reports of human rights violations, have become even more toxic after traces of radioactivity were detected in claims being mined by Anglo-Swiss miner Glencore (OTC: GLNCY). Apparently, the level of uranium (http://ibn.fm/DykLB) present in the cobalt hydroxide produced by Glencore subsidiary Katanga Mining exceeds “the acceptable limit allowed for export of the product through main African ports to customers.”
As a result, Katanga announced that it had halted “cobalt exports from its Kamoto Project in Democratic Republic of Congo, while it builds a facility to remove uranium.” In Idaho, at its Iron Creek Project, First Cobalt is on safer ground. Instead of uranium, the cobalt being explored there is more likely to be associated with copper, harmful only if you ingest too much of it.
First Cobalt’s Iron Creek Project is located close to the U.S. automotive industries in California and Michigan, which means that it could play a major role in the cobalt supply chain as electric vehicle output rises. Global sales of electric vehicles are projected to grow at a CAGR of 32.57 percent, from 1.50 million units in 2018 to 10.79 million units by 2025, driven by a number of factors. These include worldwide government support in the form of subsidies, grants and tax rebates; charging facilities with improved capability; the increasing range of EVs; and a general reduction in battery costs. The U.S. currently commands a mere two percent of the global market, but its share is expected to rise to 14 percent by 2025.
Cobalt’s importance stems from its employment in battery technology. The metal is used as cathode material in many lithium battery technologies. It comprises about 10 percent of lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminum-oxide (NCA) batteries, 15 percent of lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide batteries (NMC) and 55 percent of lithium-cobalt-oxide batteris (LCO), according to Statista (http://ibn.fm/LU3kD).
In October 2018, First Cobalt Corp released the results of its first NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate for the 100 percent-owned Iron Creek Cobalt Project in Idaho. The company announced Inferred Mineral Resources of 29.6 million tons (26.9 million tonnes) grading 0.11 percent cobalt equivalent, under a base case scenario, and an alternative underground-only scenario indicating 4.9 million tons (4.4 million tonnes) grading 0.30 percent cobalt equivalent (http://ibn.fm/UNaYY).
The company has now accelerated exploration activity intended to explore extensions to the east, west and at depth of the known resource with two additional drill rigs (http://ibn.fm/XHqGM). A total of 81 holes and over 29,000 meters are planned, primarily from new surface drilling stations constructed earlier this year. Drilling will test down dip extensions of known cobalt-copper zones to over 300 meters below surface and test lateral strike over one kilometer to extend mineralization beyond the current 520 meters.
First Cobalt Corp., with headquarters in Canada, is a North American pure-play cobalt company with three significant assets: the Iron Creek Project in Idaho, which has a historic mineral resource estimate (non-compliant with NI 43-101) of 1.3 million tons grading 0.59 percent cobalt; the Canadian Cobalt Camp, with more than 50 past producing mines; and the only permitted cobalt refinery in North America capable of producing battery materials.
For more information, visit the company’s website at http://ibn.fm/FTSSF
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