Test results showed the rotary kiln delivered high-value cobalt-copper-gold concentrate with arsenic content as low as 0.2% - lower than the smelter threshold of about 0.5% arsenic content - and further testing would be aimed at reducing that level further.
The ICP remains the only, near-term environmentally permitted primary cobalt deposit in the US, and the Vancouver-based company is planning to follow up on the laboratory testing with pilot-level roasting of the ICP ore in the third quarter. The results will help determine the final detailed design and procurement of the critical process equipment, as part of the optimised feasibility study (OFS) currently in progress.
The change to a rotary kiln, as opposed to the initially tested fluidised bed roaster - the traditional method to remove arsenic from metal concentrates by roasting - requires certain other changes to the roasting portion of the flowsheet to accommodate the changing geometry and infrastructure required to support the new roasting method, the company says.
These changes are not expected to impact the capital or operating costs of a roasting facility, but do require time to be developed to a feasibility level of confidence. For this reason, eCobalt has delayed publication of the OFS to the third quarter. It does not expect other changes to the project timeline, which, pending confirmation of mine financing, is slated to declare commercial production during the first half of 2020.
eCobalt has made significant progress on the funding front, helped in part by the strong long-term fundamentals for cobalt, and strong reported interest among third parties to buy the clean cobalt concentrate product. The company is evaluating the best third-party fit for its long-term strategy.
Further, the company has also received preliminary project finance term sheets from multiple parties, including strategic investors, private equity lenders, fixed income securities and commercial banks to finance the capital requirements of the ICP.