- Cobalt Blue is advancing its Broken Hill Cobalt Project, focused on becoming a pioneer for Australia’s domestic battery industry with the production of battery-ready cobalt sulphate.
- COB has developed a unique method of extracting cobalt from pyrite at a lower cost, with project evaluations underway.
- Mega-corporate alliances, sampling partnerships and government support represent an opportunity for COB to develop processing pathways for battery raw materials.
Australia-based green energy exploration company, Cobalt Blue Holdings Limited (ASX:COB) is focused on advancing its flagship asset, Broken Hill Cobalt Project (BHCP), the largest primary cobalt project outside Africa. The Broken Hill Cobalt Project, also known as the Thackaringa Cobalt Project, is located in the neighbourhood of world-class nickel, lead, zinc and silver mining operations in New South Wales.
Australia has an annual production of approximately 4,000 tonnes of cobalt. And, once developed successfully, Cobalt Blue’s globally significant Australian project is expected to almost double the country’s annual cobalt production to around 8,000 tonnes.
At the same time, COB is targeting to expand its horizons to the entire cobalt value chain with the development of a proprietary cobalt processing technology to produce battery-grade cobalt sulphate products.
Proprietary Cobalt Processing Technology
Thackaringa Cobalt Project holds substantial sulphide (mainly pyrite) ores with significant cobalt concentrations. Cobalt Blue is a pioneer in cobalt processing, utilising gold and copper processing techniques, and then conducting extensive research & development to alter the existing process to suit the requirement for cobalt processing.
The proprietary cobalt processing method includes a flotation circuit where a cobalt concentrate is prepared. Further treatment steps for cobalt extraction includes-
- Pyrolysis through thermal decomposition to produce sulphur and calcined product containing cobalt and other minerals
- Leaching of the calcined product to extract cobalt and sulphur
Cobalt Blue has teamed up with institutions, including the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), to further optimise the pyrolysis step of the processing technology.
The Company has received a $2.4 million grant under the CRC-Project Program and is a participant in the Future Battery Industries Co-operative Research Centre (FBI CRC), highlighting an exciting opportunity for Cobalt Blue to validate and optimise the technology.
Corporate Partnerships and Sampling Collaborations for Commercial Adoption
Cobalt Blue has collaborated with industry majors such as LG International, Mitsubishi Corporation and Sojitz Corporation to test the commercial acceptance and optimisation of its product (cobalt and elemental sulphur) and proprietary technology.
Moreover, for project evaluations, the Company has partnerships with OZ Minerals Ltd (ASX:OZL) for the Carrapateena Mine and Global Energy Metals Corporation for the Millennium Co-Cu-Au Deposit.
Millennium Project Testwork - COB recently announced testwork results involving application of its proprietary minerals processing technology to cobalt-pyrite material from the Millennium Project. Around 70 kilograms of mineralised sample from the Millennium Project was sent to Cobalt Blue for metallurgical testing. The samples were subject to a flotation scheme, recovering 93% copper, 93% cobalt and 80% gold.
The cobalt concentrate was further exposed to the thermal decomposition process to convert pyrite (FeS2) to pyrrhotite (Fe7S8). Further, leaching of the calcine (pyrrhotite) solution was performed to extract copper and cobalt.
The leaching recoveries stood at 90% for cobalt, 95% for copper and 10% for gold. The overall metallurgical recovery for gold stood at 90% with 80% from flotation and 10% from leaching beneficiation steps.
Carrapateena Testwork – The Company is also advancing on testing of samples from OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena mining operations for a mixed pyrite concentrate containing gold, cobalt and copper.
Cobalt Blue plans to form multiple sample partnerships to establish commercial potential of the technology to produce high purity, high quality, battery-grade cobalt products and elemental sulphur. The Company plans to prequalify its sulphur and cobalt products and substantially enhance the value generation potential for its flagship project BHCP even before the expected completion of the feasibility study in 2022.
Stock Performance - COB stock settled at $ 0.096 a share on 24 June 2020, with a market capitalisation of $15.99 million. The last three-month return of the stock was noted at 25%.
All financial information has been expressed in Australian Dollars (AUD) unless stated otherwise.