Glencore and First Cobalt team up to restart refinery

22nd May 2019 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH ( – Diversified miner Glencore has thrown its support behind the restart of dual-listed First Cobalt’s refinery in Ontario.

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to supply cobalt feedstock and financing to recommission the First Cobalt refinery, with First Cobalt and Glencore to collaborate in the final flowsheet design with a view to accelerate the restart of the only primary cobalt refinery in North America.

“The partnership announced today will help First Cobalt achieve its stated objective of providing ethically-sourced battery grade cobalt for the North American electric vehicle market,” said First Cobalt president and CEO Trent Mell.

“As the world’s leading producer of cobalt, Glencore is an ideal partner for First Cobalt. Our shareholders will benefit from Glencore financial backing, technical support and opportunities for regional synergies with their Sudbury and Rouyn-Noranda operations.”

Glencore will evaluate making a loan to fund the restart of the refinery, and will enter into a tolling agreement with First Cobalt, providing feedstock sufficient to produce some 2 000 t/y to 2 500 t/y of cobalt in sulfate.

A 2018 study into a restart of the refinery estimated that the operation could be recommissioned to produce some 24 t/d at a capital cost of $30-million. The study also considered an expansion of up to 50 t/d within the footprint of the current structure.

The refinery could be operational within 18 to 24 months, and discussions are under way with the provincial government to identify opportunities to streamline and accelerate the permit amendment process.

First Cobalt noted on Wednesday that a final decision on whether to put the refinery back into production has not been made, and would be dependent on the outcome of ongoing discussions and studies.

The agreement with Glencore remains subject to a due diligence and definitive documentation.