Our strategy is focused upon maximising payable cobalt whilst participating in the strong growth of the lithium-ion battery market. Unlike the traditional cobalt mining model, COB is an integrated refinery model capable of delivering first an intermediate Mixed Hydroxide product (MHP), which can subsequently be further refined into battery grade cobalt sulphate. The COB process-block flowsheet is shown below.
Driven by strong demand for cobalt, primarily through expected electric vehicle and energy storage system growth, COB now has over 30 partners in our global Cobalt Sample Program (spanning Europe, India, Korea, United States, Japan, China and Australia). Cobalt samples will be produced at our Pilot Plant located in Broken Hill.
Government and Industry Cooperation
COB has previously announced it was awarded A$2.4 million of Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) – Project Round 8 Funding from the Australian Government for applied research and development of the processing of cobalt-pyrite ore to generate battery ready cobalt sulphate over the next three years.
COB is also a participant in the Future Battery Industries CRC which was granted A$25 million from the Australian Government
in May 2019. Future Battery Industries CRC has a six-year plan to fix gaps identified by industry in the value-chain from mining, processing, manufacture, deployment and recycling. There are over 50 partners in the FBI-CRC (see www.fbicrc.com.au). COB will primarily participate in the Battery Minerals, Metals and Materials Program that aims to develop sustainable, traceable, cost-effective production pathways for refined battery metals and materials from their primary (natural) and secondary (recycled) resources.
Together, the CRC-Project and the Future Battery Industries CRC, provide an exciting opportunity for COB to validate and optimise the technology for the processing of its cobalt-pyrite ore to generate cobalt sulphate for battery manufacture and the production of elemental sulphur for use in Australian agriculture and metal processing industries.
Cobalt in Waste Streams Project
COB has launched its Cobalt in Waste Streams Project, with initial work focussed on:
- Desktop reviews of Australian sulphide waste streams (potentially containing cobalt, copper and gold), with an initial focus on the resource rich district of Mt Isa/Cloncurry, where COB’s research has identified substantial cobalt in tailings. The objective includes a prioritised set of opportunity targets for deeper investigation. To date, COB has successfully conducted testwork at the Millennium Project (cobalt/cobalt/gold) (located near Cloncurry), providing us with confidence that COB processing technology can be effectively utilised on minerals from the region. In due course this review will examine opportunities across Australia.
- Design, source and installation of bench scale test equipment to complement the existing Pilot Plant facilities at Broken Hill. This will enable COB to complete the majority of testwork ‘in-house’.
COB anticipates that, subject to availability of samples, the first Cobalt in Waste Streams Project test work will commence in 2H 2021, followed by discussions for commercial development with relevant stakeholders.