VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – TSX-V-listed First Cobalt will not complete a strategic alliance over seven cobalt exploration properties close to several major copper/cobalt operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) Central African Copperbelt.
The Toronto-headquartered company announced on Monday that it would instead focus its efforts in 2017 on the Canadian Cobalt Camp, in Ontario, where it is in the process of consolidating a large land package.
The three-way merger with Cobalt One and CobalTech Mining is on track to be completed later this year, resulting in a combined land position of more than 10 000 ha in the Cobalt Camp containing about 50 past producers and mine workings.
The high number of advanced exploration targets ready for immediate work in the region greatly offsets the potential in the DRC properties now, the company advised.
First Cobalt said it might evaluate cobalt opportunities elsewhere in the future, where the exploration project potential aligns with the company’s overall strategy to offer investors leveraged access to the growing cobalt market.
“Investors are very supportive of our vision for the Canadian Cobalt Camp and we are aligned with their desire to focus on the bulk mining potential of this district, located in the best mining jurisdiction in the world,” president and CEO Trent Mell said in a statement.
Mell believes that the Canadian Cobalt Camp is emerging as one of the most prospective targets for cobalt exploration, while the DRC remains “very appealing geologically” but the investment climate has deteriorated since the strategic alliance was announced in May, and before the company has significantly expanded its footprint in Canada.
Cobalt is an increasingly important energy metal for use in many consumer products, including electronics, electric vehicles and grid energy storage applications.
According to information provided by London-based analysts Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, the cobalt market is expected to rise from about 45 000 t in 2016 to between 80 000 t and 170 000 t by 2025 – up nearly 300%. The firm expects cobalt prices to remain high and to perform well out to 2020, as demand will lead supply to 2025, though new projects coming on line will not be enough to create an oversupply.