First Cobalt granted $600,000 grant from US Departmant of Energy Critical Materials Institute
First Cobalt Corp. has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) for research on innovative mineral processing techniques for its Iron Creek copper-cobalt project in Idaho.
This interdisciplinary, collaborative research effort will be conducted in conjunction with the Kroll Institute for Extractive Metallurgy (KIEM) at the Colorado School of Mines over a two-year period with the objective of identifying more efficient and environmentally friendly methods to process cobalt ore from pyrite material. The funding from CMI will be over a two-year period, with an in-kind match from First Cobalt, as part of a total US$1.2 million program. The work is yet another executed step in First Cobalt’s strategic plan to become the world’s most sustainable producer of battery materials.
“Our vision in Idaho is to build a modern underground mining operation and mineral processing facility centered on the Iron Creek cobalt-copper deposit.” said Trent Mell, First Cobalt President & CEO. “We can take advantage of new and emerging technologies that reduce waste material coming out of the mine and reduce the amount of energy required to process the ore. To have the support of the United States Government to further a national strategy of developing a domestic supply of cobalt further reinforces the First Cobalt value proposition as North America’s only integrated supplier of battery materials for the electric vehicle industry.”
Cobalt is one of 35 elements identified by the United States Department of the Interior as a “critical mineral”. These minerals are essential to the economic and national security of the US, the supply chain of which is vulnerable to disruption. In the United States, 100 percent of cobalt used in manufacturing electric vehicle batteries is imported. President Joe Biden recently announced a 100-day review of the critical mineral supply chains to determine how the United States Government can reduce this vulnerability to disruption.
First Cobalt is providing matching in-kind support utilizing representative drill core material as well as bulk underground samples of mineralization and host rocks. First Cobalt personnel will also guide the work to be done based on the preliminary mineralogical and metallurgical tests previously completed. The project is being led by KIEM Professors Corby Anderson and Erik Spiller, currently supervising a team of four Graduate and Undergraduate students.
More than 200 kg of drill core material has been shipped to the Colorado School of Mines to initialize work to further characterize the physical properties of cobalt ore to determine the range of methods that are effective for processing. A bulk sample, more than 2,000 kg, from underground will be shipped during the summer to test ore sorting methods that potentially separate cobalt and copper ore from waste host rocks.
Results from the optimized methods will be compared to a conventional processing system First Cobalt has demonstrated to be effective for cobalt recovery. The improved process could reduce costs, energy consumption and generated waste material thereby minimizing the environmental impact of mining and mineral processing.
Iron Creek is a high grade underground primary cobalt deposit on patented property in the United States. It currently has an Indicated Resource of 2.2 Mt (2.4 million st) at 0.32 percent cobalt equivalent (0.26 percent cobalt and 0.61 percent copper) for 12.3 million lbs of contained cobalt and an Inferred Resource of 2.7 Mt (2.9 million st) at 0.28 percent cobalt equivalent (0.22 percent cobalt and 0.68 percent copper) for an additional 12.7 million lbs of contained cobalt. The resource estimate used a 0.18 percent cobalt equivalent cutoff grade.
Drilling has outlined the strike extent of mineralization to over 900 metres and down-dip to more than 650 metres. Mineralization remains open along strike and down-dip, suggesting strong potential for significant future resource growth. Thick mineralized zones of up to 30 metres of true thickness reflect broad stratabound lithological controls.