eCobalt’s primary asset, the 100% owned Idaho Cobalt Project (ICP), remains the sole, advanced stage, near term, environmentally permitted, primary cobalt deposit in the United States and offers a unique potential for North American consumers to secure an ethically sourced, environmentally sound, and transparent supply of battery grade cobalt chemicals, mined safely and responsibly in the United States.
The ICP is comprised of the Mine /ill (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 that 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 annually over a projected mine life of 12.5 years.
The ICP has 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 where approximately 90% of the earthworks have been completed at the minesite.
The Company has spent US$65.3 million and completed two phases of the ICP construction program that commenced in June 2011 and completed in December 2012. The project was placed on care and maintenance in May 2013 due to depressed financial markets and declining commodity prices.
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.
In July 2014, in light of improving financial markets and positive developments in the cobalt sector, the Company announced in that it was pursuing several opportunities in the electric vehicle, grid storage and renewable energy sectors resulting from the significant increase in the long term demand for cobalt used in rechargeable batteries. The use of cobalt in rechargeable batteries currently represents 49% of total cobalt consumption and is growing at a rate of 11.7% CAGR.
Positive internal studies resulted in the commissioning of a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) on the ICP in January 2015 to evaluate viability of producing of 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 through considerations of real estate and power requirements 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 Q1-2017. 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, mine financing, re-commencement of construction can take place and expected initial production may be achieved within 13 months attaining full ramp up production within 21 months.
The ICP remains North America’s sole primary, near term cobalt producer.