New targeted production rate increases throughput 50% providing robust project economics and resilience to lower cobalt prices
VANCOUVER, Jan. 7, 2019 /CNW/ - eCobalt Solutions Inc. ("eCobalt" or "the Company") (TSX: ECS) (OTCQX: ECSIF) (FRA: ECO) is pleased to provide an update on its Idaho Cobalt Project (the "ICP"), located near the town of Salmon in east-central Idaho, in the heart of the historic Idaho Cobalt Belt. The ICP is the only near-term, environmentally permitted primary cobalt project in the United States.
Following an extensive internal review, the Company's team has identified the potential to increase the targeted production rate to 1,200 tonnes per day ("tpd") from 800 tpd, an increase of 50% compared to the previous mine plan. This 1,200 tpd mine plan with improved economies of scale should create a more resilient project economic plan that can withstand the volatility of the cobalt market experienced recently. A larger and more robust plan will furthermore elevate eCobalt's position in the cobalt market.
"When I joined the Company late last year, my main priority was to determine how to maximize the greatest value from the Idaho Cobalt Project while minimizing technical risk, and to advance the project to production as quickly as possible," stated Michael Callahan, eCobalt's President and CEO. "Although the cobalt market has been quite volatile over the last 12-plus months, the importance of this commodity in the impending electric vehicle revolution has not waned. Prices for cobalt are still expected to strengthen beyond 2020, aligning well with when we expect our product to reach the market. Within this market context, the viability of the ICP remains strong, and so we must deliver a plan that fully maximizes the project's potential today and well into the future.
"One of our principal objectives over the past several months has been to build a first class technical team that has the talent to drive this project and the Company forward" commented Mr. Callahan. "This new group of mining professionals are mine builders and operators who have successfully led several world-class assets. We now have a level of talent and aptitude the Company has never had before. Together we took a critical look at the work that was in progress on the feasibility study, and rigorously tested all the assumptions to determine whether a larger and stronger plan could be developed. We challenged ourselves to develop a production plan with less risk and lower costs. The result of this work demonstrated that the incremental cost of retrofitting the mill to process more tonnage is supported by considerably stronger economies of scale while having no expected impact on the approved Plan of Operations. This plan would allow us to produce more cobalt earlier, thereby increasing cash flows at the beginning of the mine life, improving payback and overall project economics. Thanks to the team's commitment as well as all of the work that had been advanced on the feasibility study previously, we are working to deliver a plan which will provide for long-term value creation for all stakeholders."
eCobalt will continue working with Micon International Limited to finalize the feasibility-level study for the 1,200 tpd mine plan. The change in targeted production rate is not expected to significantly delay achieving full production, and will not require any adjustments to the planned surface disturbance of the mine and mill, therefore changes to the Company's permits which comprise the approved Plan of Operations are not expected.
The cobalt supply chain, from mine production to intermediates and finished product, has rapidly transformed over the past several years in response to the electric vehicle market. The pilot-level testwork along with ongoing market developments have provided critical information needed to refine the list of potential off-take partners. With the objective to produce a concentrate with the lowest processing cost to be sold at attractive terms, samples have been sent to this list of potential partners. The Company has received positive feedback from these parties demonstrating that ICP concentrate is desirable due to its clean and ethical production as well as its high cobalt and copper content. As there is no equivalent or benchmark concentrate in the market, thorough testing by refineries is required to obtain final concentrate specifications and commercial terms. Testing and analysis of ICP cobalt concentrate samples is currently underway by these parties. As final concentrate specifications may affect downstream processing, additonal guidance on the project development timeline will be provided once final indicative terms have been agreed.
Work required over the next several months to complete the feasibility study with the new targeted production rate includes:
Adjusting the mining sequence, schedule and costing for 1,200 tpd;
completing the engineering to expand the mill to 1,200 tpd;
obtaining quotes to bring these cost estimates to feasibility-level; and
defining final concentrate specifications based on competitive commercial terms for off-take.
"eCobalt has evolved with a continued focused on creating value for all stakeholders. We are committed to our shareholders, to our communities and to our industry peers to be driven by a dedication to operational excellence and risk management by our team of technically-driven, seasoned professionals," added Mr. Callahan. "The new team we have in place is creating positive change at the corporate and project level, taking a cautious approach to safeguard the future of the Company in turbulent as well as stable markets. With a stronger plan in place, we are better positioned to capitalize on the ever-growing market for cobalt even amidst volatility and market uncertainty. All of the work that has been achieved, paired with what we have observed in the international market, positions us to advance quickly to create this value for the long-term."
About eCobalt Solutions Inc. eCobalt is a Toronto Stock Exchange listed development-stage mining company committed to providing cobalt products essential for the rapidly growing rechargeable battery and renewable energy sectors, made safely, responsibly, and transparently in the United States. The Company's Idaho Cobalt Project, located in East Central Idaho in the historic Idaho Cobalt Belt, is the only near-term, environmentally permitted, primary cobalt project in the United States. It is 100% owned by the Company's wholly owned subsidiary, Formation Capital Corporation, U.S.
Cautionary Statement on Forward Looking Statements
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Statements in this news release pertaining to the feasibility study, financing and off-take activities are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on assumptions and address future events and conditions and are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future results, performance or achievement. These risks, uncertainties and factors include general business, economic, competitive, political, regulatory and social uncertainties; actual results of exploration activities and economic evaluations; fluctuations in currency exchange rates; changes in project parameters; changes in costs, including labour, infrastructure, operating and production costs; future prices of cobalt; variations of mineral grade or recovery rates; operating or technical difficulties in connection with exploration, development or mining activities, including the failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated; delays in completion of exploration, development or construction activities; changes in government legislation and regulation; the ability to maintain and renew existing licenses and permits or obtain required licenses and permits in a timely manner; the ability to obtain financing on acceptable terms in a timely manner; contests over title to properties; employee relations and shortages of skilled personnel and contractors; the speculative nature of, and the risks involved in, the exploration, development and mining business.
Such projections are and will inevitably always be dependent on assumptions about future mineral prices and development costs which will be subject to fluctuation due to global and local economic and industry conditions. Further information regarding risks and uncertainties which may cause results to differ from those contained in forward-looking statements is included in filings by the Company with securities regulatory authorities and is available at www.sedar.com. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Although the Company has disclosed that the ICP remains the sole, near term, environmentally permitted, primary cobalt deposit in the United States and offers a unique potential for North American consumers to secure an ethically sourced, environmentally sound supply of clean cobalt products, there is no guarantee that the Company will attain commercial production of such cobalt products for use in the rechargeable battery sector. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements that are contained herein, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.
The statements contained in this news release in regard to eCobalt that are not purely historical are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including eCobalt's beliefs, expectations, hopes or intentions regarding the future. All forward-looking statements are made as of the date hereof and are based on information available to eCobalt as of such date.
SOURCE eCobalt Solutions Inc.
For further information: Investor Relations Contact: Fiona Grant Leydier, V.P. Investor Relations, T: +1.604.682.6229 x 206, E: [email protected]