VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Project consolidator First Cobalt has sampled high-grade mineralisation styles from several historic mines it owns in the prospective Cobalt Mining Camp, in Ontario, located about 400 km north of Toronto.
The Toronto-headquartered company announced on Thursday that high-grade vein style mineralisation was found in muck piles throughout the camp, containing up to 9.22% cobalt and more than 5 300 g/t silver.
Listed on the TSX-V, the company said it considers the mineralisation to be representative of historical mineralisation styles and useful for mineralogical tests. The similarity of the cobalt minerals in all veins points towards using a consistent processing system for the various deposits throughout the camp.
Disseminated and fracture-controlled mineralisation, such as that found in the Bellellen and Haileybury mines, occurs in the same mineral phases and can also be treated in one system, despite being lower grade at 0.25% and 0.5% cobalt.
Further, the company advised that, despite being generally lower in abundance, there may be opportunities for the metallurgical recovery of copper and nickel. Historical mining in the Cobalt Camp focused on recovering silver with cobalt as a secondary revenue stream.
“These mineralogical test results are encouraging as they suggest that both cobalt-rich and silver-rich mineralisation styles may be processed using similar flowsheets. The Cobalt Camp is rich with muckpiles located in proximity to historic mines and they provide an opportunity to study discarded material previously mined underground without the additional cost of drilling. The results of this study support further work to assess the muckpiles for processing, and they could potentially be a future source of initial ore,” stated president and CEO Trent Mell in a news release.
Cobalt prices are up 144% year-on-year on rising battery production and the tightening supply of raw materials, specifically battery chemicals. Political instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo also continues to jeopardise half of the world's cobalt supply.
Prices recently topped $27.50/lb, compared with a five-year average of $13/lb. Demand for cobalt is projected to grow at 5.9% a year, compared with supply growth estimates of only 4.1% a year through to 2025. A refined cobalt supply deficit is expected to intensify from 2.5-million tonnes in 2020, to about 19.1-million tonnes of refined cobalt by 2025.
Standard-grade cobalt prices could rise from $32/lb in 2018 to $35/lb in 2025.
First Cobalt, which is in the closing stages of a three-way merger with Cobalt One and CobalTech Mining, will now proceed with bench-scale metallurgical studies to design a mill flowsheet for the vein material. It will also study ore-sorting technologies and undertake a more systematic muckpile sampling programme.