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First Cobalt Corp. initiates refinery study

The First Cobalt Refinery, historically known as the Yukon Refinery, has passed through several hands over the years, and was most recently owned by Swiss-based United Commodity, which went bankrupt several years ago.

First Cobalt Corp. has initiated a study of the First Cobalt Refinery in Cobalt, Ontario, to help the company estimate the capital requirements for a future restart and expansion of the facility.

“The First Cobalt Refinery is a unique and strategic asset that is fully permitted to process North American feedstock,” said Trent Mell, president and CEO. “As we move forward with the proposed acquisition of US Cobalt and ongoing studies of early cash flow opportunities in the Cobalt camp from historic muckpile material, this refinery study will drive us closer to our goal of being a vertically integrated North American cobalt company.”

The expansion scenario study will estimate the additional capital requirements and increase in throughput of an expanded facility within the current building footprint.

The First Cobalt Refinery is a hydrometallurgical cobalt-silver-nickel refinery located approximately five kilometres east of the historic silver mining town. The facility was commissioned in 1996 with a nominal throughput of 12 tonnes per day.

A second autoclave was later added to the pressure oxidation circuit to double the throughput to 24 tonnes per day, but was never fully commissioned.

The facility is located on a 40-acre property and includes two settling ponds and an autoclave pond.

A 2012 report prepared for a previous owner by Hatch estimated the replacement value of the First Cobalt Refinery at US$78 million, excluding the capital invested in power lines and earthworks related to the tailings facility and roads.

The facility is fully permitted for processing feed containing elevated concentrations of arsenic.

The refinery contains three circuits: a pressure oxidation circuit, a solvent extraction circuit and a Merrill Crowe circuit. Feed containing arsenic is first treated in the pressure oxidation circuit where arsenic is combined with iron to create a stable iron arsenate called scorodite. The refinery permits allow scorodite to be disposed of in its autoclave pond. The company has engaged Primero Group, an Australian engineering firm with an office in Montréal to conduct the desktop study review.

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