First Cobalt assessing restart of Canadian refinery

First Cobalt Corp reports on the results of three studies supporting a restart of the First Cobalt Refinery in Ontario, Canada. First Cobalt engaged Primero Group, an Australian engineering firm with an office in Montreal, Canada, to conduct a desktop study to estimate the capital and operating costs to operate the First Cobalt Refinery in its current configuration at various throughput rates. A copy of the report is available on SEDAR (

  • Three independent studies undertaken to estimate capital requirements, operating costs, permit renewal timelines, potential feedstock options and offtake opportunities
  • Under a 24 t/d base case scenario, the refinery could produce 568 to 1,063 t/y of cobalt; the study also considers an expansion scenario of up to 50 t/d
  • At 24 t/d and using the current flowsheet, the capital cost of the restart is $25.7 million (including a 30% contingency) and operating cost is estimated at $6.7 million per annum
  • Permitting review concludes that a restart is possible within 18 months of selecting a feedstock under the base case scenario
  • Potential feed material includes cobalt concentrate from mining operations, ethically-sourced cobalt hydroxide material from the DRC and recycled battery materials from North America
  • Refinery could produce a cobalt sulphate for the lithium-ion battery market or cobalt metal for the American aerospace industry
  • Discussions initiated with potential offtake partners

Trent Mell, President & Chief Executive Officer, commented: “The First Cobalt Refinery is a strategic North American asset and potentially our quickest path to cashflow by producing cobalt materials for the North American market. The facility is in excellent condition with permits in place and a short timeline to potential production, as well as optionality for both sources of material and refined product. Future offtake partners may offer flexibility with financing options to minimize dilution as we move forward.

“We believe that the single best use of the refinery is to provide cobalt for the US market, which does not currently produce a meaningful supply. At this time, we are working with engineering and market consultants to assess the suitability and margin opportunities of various feed sources. This process includes a review of design modifications to the existing refinery flow sheet and the resulting impact on capital and operating costs. While no decision for start-up has been made to move forward, we are reviewing funding alternatives that would minimize equity dilution for our shareholders today and in the future.”

The First Cobalt Refinery is a hydrometallurgical cobalt-silver-nickel refinery in the Canadian Cobalt Camp, approximately 500 km from the US border. The facility was commissioned in 1996 and has a nominal throughput of 12 to 24 t/d. First Cobalt has completed three studies to assess options for a restart of the facility: (1) a desktop engineering review of the current flowsheet and associated capital and operating costs to resume operations at a throughput rate of 12 to 50 t/d; (2) a permit review to assess the time required to renew and amend existing operating permits; and (3) a market study to identify potential feed sources and final products and estimate gross margin opportunities.

The company is in discussions with various feedstock suppliers and potential offtake parties who could finance an eventual restart of the cobalt refining facility. The base case scenario would see refinery resume operations at 24 t/d.