Canadian Manufacturing

First Cobalt Corp. provides an update on its battery materials refinery

The low carbon footprint facility remains on schedule for commissioning in the fourth quarter of 2022.

July 13, 2021  by CM Staff

Road and parking lot earthworks at First Cobalt’s Refinery (CNW Group/First Cobalt Corp.)

TORONTO — On Jul. 13, First Cobalt Corp. provided an update on the expansion and recommissioning of its battery materials hydrometallurgical refinery north of Toronto. The low carbon footprint facility remains on schedule for commissioning in the fourth quarter of 2022, at which time it will become the only refiner of battery-grade cobalt sulfate in North America and the second largest outside of China.

  • First Cobalt’s project team continues to grow with the addition of a Health, Safety and Logistics Superintendent and a Health, Safety, Environment and Training Coordinator
  • Recommissioning of plant utilities has been ongoing, including regulatory inspections and maintenance of electric power supply systems as well as inspection and maintenance of main water supply piping and pumping systems
  • Geotechnical drilling is underway to gather analytical information for detailed design of the foundations for the new solvent extraction building, cobalt sulfate crystallizer building addition and effluent treatment facility
  • Improvements to the refinery access road have been completed to allow for the heavier traffic of transport trucks
  • Received the permit to take water and remaining two permit amendments (air/noise permit and industrial sewage works permit) and site closure plan have been submitted to regulators for review, with initial feedback received
  • Project activities continue to be funded from a healthy $14 million treasury as the debt financing process progresses through the technical due diligence phase
  • First Cobalt is assessing a longer term strategy to produce nickel sulfate to attract a precursor manufacturer to a future “Battery Park” all within the existing refinery footprint

The planned US$45 million debt facility is in the due diligence phase and combined with current working capital and committed government investments, is expected to supply the remaining funding required to bring the project to completion. Until such time, the Company has $14 million in working capital to fund its activities, in addition to $10 million in government funding commitments.

Preliminary discussions have been held with government officials on the creation of a Battery Park on site, similar to the Harjavalta Industrial Park in Finland. To realize on this strategy, First Cobalt envisions refining nickel and cobalt, in addition to recycling black mass from spent lithium-ion batteries. Hydrometallurgical test work conducted by SGS on black mass samples resulted in high recoveries of both cobalt and nickel. Precursor manufacturing is the final step in chemical processing prior to the battery being mechanically fitted within a cathode and anode casing for electric vehicles. The mutual advantages for an integrated approach include lower operating costs, lower logistics costs and a smaller environmental footprint.

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