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First Cobalt doubles production potential at namesake cobalt refinery

A debottlenecking study for the restart of First Cobalt Corp.'s namesake cobalt refinery in Ontario outlined the potential to more than double production by increasing the initial capital investment.

The study, based on the plant using third party cobalt hydroxide as feed material, estimated production of 5,020 tonnes per annum, compared to the previous estimate of 2,000 to 2,500 tpa.

The initial capex estimate, if additional liquid-solid separation equipment is used, was increased to US$37.5 million, from US$30 million, with annual operating costs of US$36.4 million.

The project will also need to expand the flow-sheet circuit to optimize the existing building footprint in order to achieve the higher output.

Meanwhile, a minimum investment scenario estimated capital costs of US$12.0 million and annual operating costs of US$9.3 million, for production of 675 tpa.

"The 675 tpa production scenario involves simply restarting the refinery as is using only currently installed equipment and making necessary flowsheet changes to process cobalt hydroxide to produce cobalt sulfate," according to the May 28 release.

The company noted that the debottlenecking study did not assess the economic viability of the project, and only estimated the costs related to recommissioning and operating the refinery.

First Cobalt is in discussions with Glencore AG to supply cobalt feedstock and financing to recommission the refinery, and the companies are expected to enter a definitive agreement within 60 days.

The company will now undertake advanced metallurgical testing, and feasibility level engineering and test work to generate detailed quotations, engineering and further cost estimates.