Jan 10, 2018

Cobalt on a battery-powered climb

Cobalt on a battery-powered climb

Cobalt prices have cracked the US$75,000/t mark in the past month amid hefty forecasts for future demand in the battery market.

In an investment presentation last month, major producer Glencore highlighted modelling on what the move to electric vehicles will mean for copper, nickel and cobalt requirements (see insert diagram). It plans to double its cobalt output in the next two years.

On the offtake side of the equation, BMW says its needs for materials such as cobalt and lithium will grow 10-fold by 2025 as it works towards releasing on a raft of electrified vehicles.

Those set to benefit include mining juniors working to bring cobalt projects online in north and north-west Queensland.

Aeon Metals describes its Walford Creek deposit as the largest and most advanced cobalt sulphide project in Australia.

It announced last month that it was raising $30 million via an institutional placement to new and existing investors, with an expanded drill program planned in 2018.

A cobalt roasting preliminary scoping study last year was favourable for a 2.5Mtpa operation over 15 years producing 1.2ktpa of cobalt, 8ktpa of copper, 15ktpa of zinc and 13ktpa of lead.

The project design included a conventional float mill to produce copper, zinc and lead, with a pyrite concentrate to be processed through an onsite roaster to produce cobalt metal via SX/EW.

Meanwhile, Australian Mines last month completed its acquisition of 100 per cent of the Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium
project in north Queensland from its previous joint venture partner Metallica Minerals.

“Securing 100 per cent ownership of the advanced Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in northern Queensland is
a major strategic milestone for Australian Mines, and progresses our plans to become a significant supplier of cobalt to the emerging electric vehicle sector within the next few years,” managing director Benjamin Bell said.

Australian Mines’ focus in early 2018 is on delivering the bankable feasibility study on the Sconi project.

While cobalt prices have lifted from about $30,000/t in the past 12 months, they are some way from matching pre-GFC peaks of US$110,000/t.



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