Government of Canada & Province of Ontario invest $10M to establish cobalt refinery in N. Ontario; battery-grade cobalt sulfate
17 December 2020
The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario are each investing $5 million in First Cobalt Corporation to accelerate domestic production of battery-grade cobalt sulfate, a required element needed to produce long-range electric vehicles (EVs).
Provided through FedNor’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program and Ontario’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), this strategic investment will enable First Cobalt Corporation to recommission and expand its hydrometallurgical cobalt refinery in North Cobalt, located 500 kilometers North of Toronto.
Once complete, the facility will be the first and only facility of its kind in North America, capable of producing 25,000 tonnes of battery-grade cobalt sulfate annually, which represents five percent of the global market for refined cobalt.
First Cobalt’s refinery project has an estimated capital cost of C$77 million (US$60 million), including Federal and Provincial contributions totaling $10 million.
The First Cobalt Refinery is a hydrometallurgical cobalt refinery located north of Toronto, in the community of Temiskaming Shores. The facility was permitted in 1996 with a nominal throughput of 12 tonnes per day and operated intermittently until 2015, producing cobalt, nickel and silver products.
In May 2020, the company completed an engineering study that confirmed the refinery’s suitability to treat cobalt hydroxide at an expanded throughput of 55 tonnes per day to produce a high purity, battery-grade cobalt sulfate. Today, approximately 80% of global supply comes from China and there is no production in North America.
In conjunction with the feasibility study, discussions have been ongoing with potential automotive offtake partners as well as several lenders interested in providing the balance of the capital required to complete the project.
Mining and related industries employ more than 625,000 people across Canada and contribute as much as $97 billion a year to Canada’s GDP. With one of the largest concentrations of mining and related businesses in Canada, Northern Ontario’s mining industry is a key economic driver that fuels social and economic growth, while creating jobs and opportunities for families throughout the region.
This investment also helps advance the Canada-US Joint Action Plan for Critical Minerals Collaboration, by strengthening the North American supply chain security for this critical battery mineral.