First Cobalt secures feedstock for Ontario refinery

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First Cobalt Corp. [FCC-TSXV; FTSSF-OTCQB; FCC-ASX) on Tuesday January 12 said Swiss metals trading giant Glencore AG and IXM SA (a unit of China Molybdenum Co. Ltd. (CMOC)) have agreed to provide cobalt feedstock to the company’s Ontario refinery.

That feedstock will be sourced from Glencore’s KKC mine and CMOC’s Tenke Fungurume. Both mines are in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

First Cobalt entered into long-term cobalt hydroxide feed arrangements with Glencore and IXM, which will provide a total of 4,500 tonnes/year of contained cobalt to First Cobalt’s refinery.

The supply agreements represent 90% of projected capacity for the refinery, yielding 22,250 tonnes/year of battery-grade cobalt sulfate.

“Securing long term feed from two of the highest quality cobalt hydroxide operations in the world supports First Cobalt’s strategy of producing the world’s most sustainable cobalt for electric vehicles,” the company said in a press release.

“This is a pivotal moment for our North American cobalt refining strategy,” said First Cobalt President and CEO Trent Mell. “Our globally competitive cost structure and industry-leading ESG credentials put us in a strong position for a rapidly growing electric vehicle market,” Mell said.

In December 2020, the Ontario and Canadian governments announced a joint $10 million investment in the First Cobalt Refinery, a move that is expected to accelerate the commissioning and expansion.

He said the company is now focused on offtake arrangements and the financing package with the goal of commencing construction in mid-2021 and full commissioning [of the refinery] in the second half of 2022.

Back in August, 2019, First Cobalt announced that Glencore had agreed provide a US$5 million loan to fund the recommissioning of the company’s refinery. First Cobalt also said a scoping study had previously estimated that if the First Cobalt Refinery operated at 55 tonnes per day, it could produce 5,000 tonnes of contained cobalt annually in sulfate, assuming a cobalt hydroxide feed, grading 30% cobalt.

Under the terms of the binding cobalt hydroxide supply contract, Glencore AG will supply the First Cobalt Refinery from the KCC mining operation for five years, commencing in the fourth quarter of 2022. First Cobalt has also signed a memorandum of understanding with IXM for cobalt from CMOC’s Tenke Fungurume mining operation in the DRC over the same period.

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