Production of concentrate has been operating at nameplate 2-3 tonnes per day since the start of May.
Pressure leaching and product recovery circuits have been successfully trialled, with ramp-up to nameplate throughput underway.
The aim of the Pilot Plant is to process 90 tonnes of ore into an intermediate Mixed Hydroxide Product (MHP) or battery ready cobalt sulphate.
COB anticipates that up to 150 kg of these cobalt products will be produced over the next 6 – 8 weeks.
Over 90% of the requested samples have been for MHP, and COB expects to produce (battery ready) cobalt sulphate over the same timeframe.
Broken Hill Cobalt Project – concentrate circuit
COB chief executive officer Joe Kaderavek said: “Production of cobalt samples from the Pilot Plant is a very important milestone for COB and its shareholders.
“In parallel with commercial sample shipments, we expect to run corresponding commercial discussions. In conjunction with our recent appointment of a Strategic Financial Advisor (Cutfield Freemen and Co), this puts the BHCP on the global commercial radar.”
Broken Hill Cobalt Project – Belt Filter & Pressure Oxidation Circuit
The focus over the recent three months has been to successfully install and commission the Pilot Plant and calibrate the equipment for the production of a marketable product.
As part of operations, the focus will expand to aim for the highest cobalt and sulphur recoveries, along with optimisation of reagent inputs.
With the plant now running, COB can continue to optimise inputs and processing costs.
COB had previously estimated an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) to produce cobalt sulphate of US$12.13/pound.
The study assumed a cobalt recovery of 85.5% from resource to saleable product.
Broken Hill Cobalt Project – Pilot Plant MHP product
The Pilot Plant and subsequent Demonstration Plant will allow COB to examine in detail, the possibility of improving this recovery, which has the potential to significantly improve project economics.
The Pilot Plant will provide initial samples, aiming to generate commercial interest in the BHCP as well as form the basis for the engineering design and cost estimates for the BHCP Demonstration Plant and Feasibility Study.
Looking forward, transition to a larger scale Demonstration Plant will enable the processing of 3,000–4,000 tonnes of ore into 3,000–4,000kg of either MHP or battery grade cobalt sulphate.
The aim is to allow shipments of larger pre-qualification samples to global partners.
Typically, a cathode maker may wish to source 5 x (10–20) kg samples to gain confidence that BHCP product quality and consistency meet large scale procurement requirements.
COB expects this supplier pre-qualification process to take about 12 months and to include technical, site, ethical and other functional audits to ascertain the suitability of BHCP product into western supply chains.
COB’s strategy is focused upon maximising payable cobalt whilst participating in the strong growth of the lithium-ion battery market.
Unlike the traditional cobalt mining model, COB is an integrated refinery model capable of delivering either an intermediate MHP or a battery-grade cobalt sulphate.
BHCP Process Flowsheet
Global sample partner program
To date, COB has engaged with over 30 global partners that wish to assess the suitability of BHCP cobalt sample to meet their production needs.
These partners span Europe, India, Korea, United States, Japan, China and Australia.
Over 90% of requests are for MHP samples. The first cobalt sample shipments will begin shortly and continue through Q2 2021.
COB expects all partners to receive their requested cobalt samples with independent assays and associated follow up technical/commercial meetings also likely to begin over Q2 2021.
Strategic financial advisor appointed
COB had previously announced the appointment of Cutfield Freeman & Co Limited to act as its strategic financial advisor.
Cutfield Freeman is a global specialist resources corporate advisory business, having successfully advised on over 150 mandated transactions across 50 countries.
The role of the strategic financial advisor includes partner search, financial advisory, and capital raising.
The coincident timing of shipping cobalt commercial samples in conjunction with this appointment is expected to significantly increase the commercial/investment focus upon the BHCP.
Story by ProactiveInvestors
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