Commercial Sample Program Update
Commercial Mixed Hydroxide Product (MHP) sample manufacture and despatch to partners is underway. The Pilot Plant program, including both MHP and cobalt sulphate samples, will be concluded in early Q3.
The sample program is already serving as a catalyst to begin commercial dialogue. COB has recently hosted a commercial partner visit and we expect further interaction over 2H 2021 as investor/partner due diligence proceeds. However, COB will not be providing any further commentary as to progress of these discussions until a commercial milestone has been reached.
With over 1,000 operating hours logged to date in the Pilot Plant, numerous areas of reliability improvements have been identified to date. These are largely focused on equipment suitability and operational procedures. These are de-risking the future Demonstration Plant, which is aiming to operate on a continuous 24/7 basis.
Transition to Demonstration Plant
The Demonstration Plant operations are designed to treat up to 3,000–4,000 tonnes of ore. Planning is well advanced for extraction of this ore from the tenements in 2H 2021. The quantity of material is 30–40x larger than the amount processed in the Pilot Plant. Design work and equipment selection is ongoing, with the majority of the pilot plant equipment to be re-used for the concentrate, leaching and product recovery circuits. Based on successful research and development, supported by the Australian Government CRC-P grant, a kiln is being purchased for the onsite pyrolysis of pyrite concentrate.
COB expects to begin commissioning the Demonstration Plant by end of year and achieve steady state operations during Q1 2022. Qualification as a supplier to global battery makers will begin during 2H 2021, even before large scale samples are despatched.
COB has begun the process of appointing an independent Feasibility Study Engineering Group and we expect to have an Engineering Group appointed by Q4. Interest in sourcing ethical and dependable cobalt from non-African sources is building appreciably with the Broken Hill Cobalt Project notable for its primary cobalt focus, large scale and long life.