- Cobalt prices more than doubled in 2017, with battery production driving demand
- Global cobalt supply shortage likely brewing with world’s increasing shift to electric vehicles
- Concerns continue over illegal cobalt mining operations and child labor in geopolitically unstable Democratic Republic of the Congo
The world’s appetite for electric vehicles and battery-driven mobile technologies appears to be insatiable, and this demand could generate cobalt supply problems in the not-too-distant future (http://ibn.fm/7RvYJ). Several of the world’s biggest auto companies and tech giants are reportedly looking to bank vast amounts of the metallic element in a bid to secure long-term cobalt supplies (http://ibn.fm/rASCW).
First Cobalt Corp. (TSX.V: FCC) (OTCQB: FTSSF), a leading cobalt explorer in North America, is making its own play to provide conflict-free cobalt to the market, a direct reference to global concerns raised over the geopolitical instability and child labor practices of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo, which produces roughly 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, recently declared cobalt and coltan as ‘strategic minerals’ and imposed a 10 percent royalty fee (a jump from 2 percent), payable to the government (http://ibn.fm/J3LYB).
As the largest landowner in Canada’s prominent Cobalt Camp and a leading explorer for cobalt in the region, First Cobalt Corp. is expanding its potential as a provider of clean, conflict-free cobalt (http://ibn.fm/tqAp9) with an agreement to acquire the Idaho-based cobalt assets of US Cobalt Inc. (TSX.V: USCO) (OTCQB: USCFF). The transaction further enhances the company’s position as a pure-play North American cobalt company, as First Cobalt president and CEO Trent Mell noted in a news release.
“We foresee a shortage of cobalt over the next five years yet there are few companies doing significant work to identify new sources of supply,” Mell said in announcing the deal. “This transaction creates a larger platform to discover and develop cobalt projects for the growing electric vehicle market by combining high quality North American assets in two of the best cobalt jurisdictions outside the DRC. US Cobalt’s Idaho project complements our Canadian Cobalt Camp properties, offering upside potential for shareholders of both companies.”
Cobalt prices, which more than doubled from 2016 to 2017, were up 133 percent year-over-year in February 2018, with analysts predicting that prices will continue a choppy, although rising, growth pattern through 2022 (http://ibn.fm/RWbXS). Miners spent more than $8 billion searching for new metal deposits in 2017, about 15 percent more than in 2016, according to a report published by S&P Global Market Intelligence, with spending on cobalt exploration increasing at quadruple rates (http://ibn.fm/OvSxX).
A metallurgical study now underway to potentially utilize First Cobalt’s mill facility in the Canadian Cobalt Camp is expected to advance the company’s understanding of its processing options on the crush waste rock material and high-grade inventory of refinery residue located on site.
“While we continue to advance our exploration strategy, another key strategic objective is to seize upon the opportunity to generate early cash flow from material left on surface from historic mining operations,” Mell said in a news release (http://ibn.fm/Da8e2). “This study is an important step toward our goal of producing cobalt battery materials in North America.”
For more information, visit the company’s website at http://ibn.fm/FTSSF
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