SHANGHAI — First Cobalt Corp. seeks to restart an idled cobalt refinery in Canada within two years and is in talks to supply the battery-grade product to four leading automakers, CEO Trent Mell, said Wednesday.
The Toronto company plans a $30 million (all figures USD) revamp of the plant in the appropriately named town of Cobalt, Ontario, which has been closed since 2015.
The restart would provide U.S. end users of cobalt, a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles, with a refining base nearer to home than China, which has most of the world’s cobalt refining capacity.
“If we can short-circuit the logistics, it provides a ready source of sulphate for the U.S. supply chain,” Mell told Reuters in an interview in Shanghai.
The refinery was commissioned in 1996, when it ran on locally sourced cobalt and produced cobalt carbonate used in animal feed — long before the EV revolution took hold.