eCobalt (the Company)’s primary asset, the 100% owned Idaho Cobalt Project, remains the only advanced stage, near term, environmentally permitted, primary cobalt deposit in the United States. The ICP will ethically produce environmentally sound battery grade cobalt salts, made safely, responsibly, and transparently in the United States.
The ICP is comprised of the Mine/Mill (M/M) site located in Lemhi County, Idaho, near the town of Salmon, Idaho and the Cobalt Production Facility (CPF), a stand-alone hydrometallurgical facility expected to be located in Southern Idaho. The CPF will process concentrates from the M/M into cobalt, copper and gold end products. The project is slated to produce the equivalent of 1,500 tons of high purity cobalt sulfate annually over a projected mine life of 12.5 years.
The ICP is fully permitted having received a final Environmental Impact Statement and positive Records of Decision from both the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Forest Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A Feasibility Study on the ICP completed in 2008 allowed the Company to finance the initial construction of the project. To date approximately 90% of the earthworks have been completed at the minesite.
The Company invested US$65.3 million completing two phases of the ICP construction program that commenced in June 2011 and completed in December 2012.
Approximately $16M worth of long lead time equipment was previously purchased and is stored in warehouse and staging areas outside of the town of Salmon, ready for transportation to the millsite. This equipment represents all major components of the mill and concentrator, and includes the ball mill, flotation cells, hoppers, grizzlies, etc. The project was placed on care and maintenance in May 2013 due to depressed financial markets and declining commodity prices.
By July 2014 financial markets had improved
significantly and it became apparent that cobalt sulfate, used in lithium-ion
batteries, was going to significantly outperform the market for cobalt used in
super-alloys. Rechargeable batteries
represent 49% of cobalt consumption (in the form of sulfate) and the market is
growing at a compounded annual rate of 11.7%.
As a result eCobalt announced a change of direction aimed at taking advantage
of the rapidly expanding electric vehicle, grid storage, and renewable energy
Positive internal studies resulted in the commissioning of a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) on the ICP in January 2015 to evaluate viability of producing cobalt sulfate heptahydrate for the rechargeable battery sector. Previous engineering and feasibility level technical reports were completed based on the production of high purity cobalt (HPC) metal for critical applications in the jet turbines, aero-engines and aerospace sector. Management continues to maintain the future option of producing HPC at the CPF.
*Bankable Feasibility Study defined in accordance with AACE International Class 3 Cost Estimation Classification System. Class 3 estimates are typically prepared to support full project funding requests for internal and/or external investment.
Positive results from the PEA and additional metallurgical test work conducted in 2015, resulted in the commissioning of a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS)* on the ICP, currently in progress. The BFS is expected to be completed before the end of Q2-2017. In addition, positive results from additional metallurgical testwork to produce cobalt sulfate heptahydrate were announced in March 2016. These results are expected to be included in the BFS.
Contingent upon the successful conclusion of the BFS and subsequent mine financing, re-commencement of construction will start immediately with initial production expected to follow within 13 months ramping up to full production 8 months later (21 months from start of construction to full production).
The ICP remains America’s sole primary, near term, cobalt producer.