Mining News Pro - Dual-listed First Cobalt has undertaken three independent studies to assess restarting its refinery in Ontario, Canada.

According to Mining News Pro -The First Cobalt refinery was commissioned in 1996, and has a nominal throughput capacity of between 12 t/d and 24 t/d.

First Cobalt has weighed options to restart the facility at 12 t/d, using the existing single autoclave, at 24 t/d, using a second autoclave that was previously installed but never fully commissioned, and an expansion scenario of 50 t/d, which would represent a nearly complete replacement of all processing equipment within the footprint of the current building structure.

On the base-case scenario of restarting the refinery at a 24 t/d throughput, the independent studies estimated a total project cost of $25.7-million, compared with the $105.3-million that would be required for the expanded production case.

The capital cost estimates included contingencies of 30%.

Replacement costs or new build costs would range between $84.3-million and $142.6-million, First Cobalt said on Thursday, depending on the throughput capacity.

“The First Cobalt refinery is a strategic North American asset and potentially our quickest path to cash flow by producing cobalt materials for the North American market,” said First Cobalt president and CEO Trent Mell.

“The facility is in excellent condition with permits in place and a short timeline to potential production, as well as optionality for both sources of material and refined products. Future offtake partners may offer flexibility with financing options to minimise dilution as we move forward.”

Mell said that the single-best use of the refinery would be to provide for the US market, which does not currently produce a meaningful supply.

“At this time, we are working with engineering and market consultants to assess the suitability and margin opportunities of various feed sources. This process includes a review of design modifications to the existing refinery flow sheet and the resulting impact on capital and operating costs.

“While no decision for start-up has been made to move forward, we are reviewing funding alternatives that would minimise equity dilution for our shareholders today, and in the future.”

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