Electra Battery committed to advancing Quebec cobalt refinery plan

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Electra Battery Materials Corp. [TSXV-ELBM, NASDAQ], a company that has a five-year deal to supply battery-grade cobalt to lithium-ion battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution (LGES) says it had $15.7 million in cash at the close of the third quarter of 2023.

Against a backdrop of challenging market and economic conditions, we completed a number of milestones in Q3, sustaining the momentum we established over the past 18 months,’’ said Electra’s CEO Trent Mell.

“Most notably, we closed an equity financing that generated gross proceeds of $21.5 million, extended our supply agreement with LG Energy Solution to five years from three, and signed an MOU with Three Fires to form a joint venture focused on battery waste in Canada,’’ Mell said. Three Fires Group Inc. supports First Nation investments in non-fossil fuel, clean energy projects generally aligned with the Ontario government’s energy supply acquisition strategy.

“Backed by a stronger balance sheet, our near-term focus will be to complete our black mass recycling trial at our refinery complex and accelerate efforts to secure US$60 million in funding required to complete our refinery project,’’ Mell said. “Once completed, the estimated replacement value of the cobalt refinery will be approximately US$260 million.’’

Over the longer term, Mell said the company remains committed to advancing plans for a second refinery in Becancour, Quebec and advancing its exploration projects in the Idaho Cobalt belt.

Electra shares were unchanged at 73 cents and trade in a 52-week range of $4.20 and 59 cents.

Electra, a company previously known as First Cobalt Corp, has pledged to supply LGES with 3,000 tonnes cobalt contained in a cobalt sulfate product in 2025 and a further 4,000 tonnes in each of the following years through 2009, for a total of 19,000 tonnes under an agreed pricing mechanism. That material will be supplied from a cobalt sulfate refinery located in Temiskaming Shores, near the Sudbury, Ont., Nickel Basin.

The refinery is currently under construction and also running a plant-scale black mass recycling trial to recover high value elements contained in expired lithium-ion batteries, including lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and graphite. Electra recently said results from its plant-scale trial have met or exceeded results achieved previously in the lab setting. Electra anticipates commercialization of its black mass recycling capabilities in 2024, pending completion of funding commitments.

First Cobalt acquired the facility three years ago when it bought US Cobalt Inc. for about $150 million.

As part of the deal, First Cobalt also picked up the Iron Creek Cobalt property in Idaho, one of only two advanced primary cobalt resource projects in the U.S., and a potential future source of feed for the Ontario refinery.

After recent talks with potential customers in the auto and battery manufacturing sector, First Cobalt elected to expand the refinery into a Battery Metals Park capable of supplying a variety of materials for the electric vehicle market.

At full capacity, Electra’s battery materials park could produce enough cobalt sulfate to supply up to 15 million electric vehicles annually and process 2,500 tonnes of black mass materials per annum.

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