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Temiskaming cobalt refinery owner pockets a key permit

First Cobalt waiting on third and final approval to start refinery expansion
First Cobalt conceptual 4
(First Cobalt conceptual of the refinery expansion project)

First Cobalt said it has received the second of three key permits for the restart of its refinery outside of the town of Cobalt.

With project plans on a schedule for a fourth quarter 2022 commissioning, the Toronto company said it's received air and noise environmental compliance approval from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

In a news release, the company said an application for a third undisclosed permit has already gone through the community consultation process and been submitted to the government for review. An approval and is expected shortly.

Once in operation at the end of next year, the company said the refinery will have the lowest emissions in the industry.

First Cobalt aims to be North America's only supplier of battery-grade cobalt for the electric vehicle market with the US$60-million expansion of the refinery in the Temiskaming area of northeastern Ontario.

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A construction contract to build an addition onto the existing refinery building, incorporating solvent extraction technology, was recently awarded to Metso Outotec.

The company's schedule is o commission the refinery by the fourth quarter of 2022, targeting annual production of 25,000 tonnes of cobalt sulfate. The plan is to process unrefined cobalt hydroxide, coming from mining companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, into cobalt sulfate with production of 25,000 tonnes a year, which is used in the electric vehicle (EV) market.

"With financing in place, receipt of this latest permit keeps us on schedule for Phase 1 of our North American Battery Materials Park strategy," said First Cobalt president-CEO Trent Mell.

"Phase 2 will entail commercial-scale battery recycling from the same facility, leveraging existing personnel and infrastructure. In Phase 3, we will set our sights on building a nickel sulfate plant, once again becoming the sole North American supplier of an important raw material for the EV industry."

Mell commented that in the first half of this year, electric vehicles in the U.S. were up more than 130 per cent and believes that trend will accelerate with new EV models hitting the market.

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