SHANGHAI — First Cobalt Corp aims 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, chief executive Trent Mell said on Wednesday.
The Toronto-based company is planning a $30 million (all figures USD) revamp of the plant, located in the appropriately named town of Cobalt, Ontario, which has been shut down 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, where most of the world’s cobalt refining capacity is located.
“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.