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First Cobalt lays out path to 'become the most sustainable producer of cobalt in the world' in 2020 year in review

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First Cobalt Corp (CVE:FCC) (OTCQX:FTSSF) (FRA:18P) published a 2020 year-in-review document, highlighting the company’s significant progress toward its goal of producing the most sustainable battery materials and strong setup for growth and execution in 2021. 

“We are on a path to become the most sustainable producer of cobalt in the world and the only company capable of supplying battery-grade cobalt to the North American electric vehicle market,” CEO Trent Mell said in a statement. 

“The stage was set in 2020 with the completion of engineering studies, metallurgical work and a strategic investment from the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. In 2021, the story will be one of execution, as we expand the First Cobalt Refinery in Canada and resume activities at our advanced copper-cobalt project in Idaho.”

READ: First Cobalt Corp begins important preparation work ahead of refinery construction

In May 2020, the company published an engineering study that estimated annual production of 5,000 tonnes of battery-grade cobalt from third-party feed, representing 5% of the total global refined cobalt market – and 100% of North American cobalt sulfate supply.  

The year was capped off with the announcements of $10 million in funding from the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario towards refinery construction, the company said. Canada is providing a $5 million interest-free loan through the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, while Ontario is providing a $5 million non-repayable grant through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

Most of the cobalt consumed today is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and then shipped to China for refining, where 80% of battery-grade cobalt is produced. North America, meanwhile, is 100% reliant on imports of cobalt sulfate. There are no cobalt sulfate refining facilities operating on the continent, which gives the First Cobalt Refinery a strategic advantage in the electric vehicle supply chain, the company said.

Looking ahead, the goal is to deliver the world’s most sustainable cobalt to the electric vehicle industry. The primary focus for 2021 is advancing the refinery, with construction commencing in mid-2021, which would put the company on track for commissioning in late 2022. Ultimately, the refinery is intended to divert ethically sourced African mine production from China to North America.

First Cobalt plans to finance the refinery expansion capital costs with a mix of debt and equity, weighted more heavily towards debt instruments. In March 2021, First Cobalt announced it had entered an exclusivity agreement with a leading financing institution to provide US$45 million of debt financing and was entering the due diligence phase, which would be the final piece required for the capital costs to be fully financed.

Iron Creek project

First Cobalt’s Iron Creek copper-cobalt project is located in Idaho, along the most prolific trend of cobalt mineralization in the US, the Idaho Cobalt Belt. The property consists of mining patents and exploration claims covering an area of 2,600 acres. 

First Cobalt has completed over 29,000 metres of diamond drilling and significant infrastructure is in place to support multiple drills and underground activity for further work, the company said..

With a strengthening cobalt market, a 2021 drill program is being designed to test for the extensions of the Iron Creek copper-cobalt resource, the company said. The areas with high chargeability anomalies from a geophysical survey that are considered to be associated with mineralization along this horizon have been prioritized for this program. The objective over the next two years is to meaningfully increase the resource size at Iron Creek and advance the asset towards a development decision.

Warrants and Share Units

In the first quarter of 2021, First Cobalt received an additional $6 million in cash proceeds relating to warrant exercises, the company said. In combination with the January bought-deal and the closing of the Kuya Silver transaction, First Cobalt has approximately $19 million of working capital on hand, not including the $10 million of refinery construction funding pledged by the Ontario and Canadian Governments.

Additionally, the company has issued 218,116 Deferred Share Units (DSUs) to directors as compensation for their services. The Company has also issued 115,000 Restricted Share Units (RSUs), 1,575,000 Performance Share Units (PSUs) and incentive grants to employees to purchase an aggregate of 575,000 common shares of First Cobalt exercisable at the April 15 closing price of $0.345 for a period of five years. 

Contact Andrew Kessel at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kessel

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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