Market Overview

Cobalt's Scarcity Influences the Lithium-ion Battery Market


Cobalt's Scarcity Influences the Lithium-ion Battery Market News Commentary

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, June 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

According to a report published by Variant Market Research, the Global Lithium-Ion Battery market is projected to reach USD 56 Billion by 2024, while growing at a CAGR of 10.6%. These rechargeable batteries are engineered to deliver high energy output as well as high power-density. Such characteristics made them promising for many rechargeable electronic consumer products. The increasing adoption of smartphones, laptops, tablets and other mobile electronics has caused the market to grow significantly. However, while the electronics segment holds the largest portion of the market, it is the electric vehicles (EVs) industry that is expected to grow at the fastest rate in the near future. Pacific Rim Cobalt Corp. (OTC:PCRCF), First Cobalt Corp (OTC:FTSSF), eCobalt Solutions Inc. (OTC:ECSIF), Katanga Mining Limited (OTC:KATFF), PolyMet Mining Corp. (OTC:PLM)

Lithium-ion batteries are made from various components, including nickel, manganese and cobalt. Of the various components, however, cobalt is the scarcest. According to a Wall Street Journal report from earlier this year, "Booming demand for cellphone and electric-vehicle batteries has created a once-unthinkable metals-industry player: the pure cobalt company. Cobalt prices have risen 270% on the London Metal Exchange to about $80,000 a metric ton since early 2016, creating an opening for companies to specialize in a metal once seen as a waste product. Cobalt is now valued for its ability to withstand the intense heat generated by lithium-ion batteries."

Pacific Rim Cobalt Corp. (OTCQB:PCRCF) also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the Ticker (CSE:BOLT). Just this morning the company announced breaking news that, "a resource company with assets located proximal to the world's largest cobalt market, has commenced the 2018 work program at its 100% controlled, 5000 hectare Cyclops Cobalt-Nickel Project (formerly the "TNM Project") in the Papua province of Indonesia.

As an initial step to guide the 2018 work plan, the Company has begun detailed drone-operated topographic and photographic surveys with overflights across key targets within the property. The resulting data will provide control for planned exploration activities, including geological mapping, sampling, test pitting and diamond drilling to confirm historically reported cobalt-nickel-bearing laterite zones. The project area has year-round access by road from the nearby Sentani regional airport and is close to the administrative capital, Jayapura, which provides access to personnel and infrastructure. Additionally, the Cyclops Project is directly situated on coastal tidewater in direct shipping proximity to Asia, the world's largest cobalt consumer.

Ranjeet Sundher, Pacific Rim Cobalt's President and CEO, noted: "Like many business endeavors, project expertise combined with prime location can play a key role in the success or failure of an enterprise, especially in the resource sector. We believe that cost-effective ocean-going proximity to the largest cobalt markets in the world, combined with our strong in-country experience, makes for a truly attractive business proposition. It appears that the raw material supply chain for the battery sector is becoming increasingly recognized as an opportunity with significant growth potential."

During 2018, diamond drilling and test pit excavations will be undertaken to delineate the lateral and vertical extent of cobalt and nickel mineralization within the project area.

"We also expect to commission metallurgical studies of laterite materials from the Cyclops Project for test processing at a North American-based pilot processing facility later this year," continued Mr. Sundher. "The studies are intended to guide development of best-practice industrial-scale processing methods for battery-grade cobalt and nickel sulphates, both of which are critical inputs for the rapidly growing lithium-ion battery industry."

The company further advises it has developed and instituted an ongoing program to identify and evaluate other Indonesian cobalt opportunities to enhance its position in the sector and is currently carrying out due diligence on a number of projects of strategic interest within the region.

Qualified Person - Mr. Garry Clark, P. Geo., Independent Director of Pacific Rim Cobalt, is the qualified person as defined in NI 43-101, who has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical content in this release. About Pacific Rim Cobalt - is a Canadian publicly listed company currently focused on the development of cobalt projects within Indonesia. It's TNM cobalt project encompasses cobalt and nickel mineralization as well as excellent infrastructure for year-round development activities. The Company believes cobalt will be the next dominant investment trend related to the critical components of lithium-ion batteries. Cobalt is currently in a global supply deficit, has a vulnerable supply chain, and is part of an emerging sector with extraordinary potential. Pacific Rim believes that the quality of our assets and our proximity to markets give us the opportunity to be a leader in the cobalt development space. For more information, visit:"

First Cobalt Corp (OTCQX:FTSSF) announced this week a $9 million work program for the Iron Creek Project in Idaho, USA, which it acquired on June 4, 2018. The Company intends to publish a mineral resource estimate by October 2018 and complete an additional 30,000 metres of drilling designed to double the mineralized zone along strike beyond the area drilled in 2017. Trent Mell, President & Chief Executive Officer, commented: "First Cobalt acquired US Cobalt because we believe that Iron Creek is one of the most prospective and advanced projects in North America. With a historic resource estimate, patented land and 600 metres of underground development, Iron Creek is a prized high grade primary cobalt asset in a great mining jurisdiction. Today's budget and work program is a testament to our conviction about this cobalt-copper projects' ability to be expanded and ultimately fast-tracked for future production in North America."

eCobalt Solutions Inc. (OTCQX:ECSIF) is a well-established Toronto Stock Exchange listed company committed to providing clean cobalt products essential for the rapidly growing rechargeable battery and renewable energy sectors, made safely, responsibly, and transparently in the United States. The company recently provided an update on progress made at its 100% owned Idaho Cobalt Project located near the town of Salmon, in the heart of the Idaho Cobalt Belt. The water treatment plant, designed and supplied by Veolia Water Technologies, Inc., will treat water from the underground mine and runoff from the dry stacked tailings facility prior to discharge in accordance with the ICP's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Over the course of the coming weeks, pre-construction activities will continue to progress in preparation for full construction ramp up in the summer of 2018. "As we prepare for underground mine development, capital raised from our recent financing is being deployed on pre-construction activities as planned," stated Paul Farquharson, President & CEO of eCobalt. "Delivery of the water treatment plant components has commenced, and we have awarded contracts to construct the plant starting in May."

Katanga Mining Limited (OTC:KATFF) Katanga Mining Limited operates a major mine complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo producing refined copper and cobalt. The company recently announced its 2018 first quarter production and financial results. The report outlines that the cobalt production section of the plant that was commissioned during March 2018, led to the production of 525 tons of cobalt metal contained in hydroxide. During Q1 2018, the Company completed the WOL Project, Acid Plant and Cobalt Projects. The cobalt circuit was commissioned, with the first cobalt hydroxide produced in March 2018; The construction of Phase 2 of the WOL Project started in January 2018. Progress according to the project schedule is being made on the cobalt debottlenecking project and cobalt dryers aimed at increasing potential maximum cobalt production capacity to 40,000 tons per annum by Q1 2019. All in all, cash flow from operating activities increased to USD 35.4 million in Q1 2018 from cash outflow from operations of USD 71.8 million in Q4 2017. The increase in cash generation was driven by the increase in revenue due to production ramp-up according to the company.

PolyMet Mining Corp. (OTC:PLM) reports it has filed an updated technical report with Canadian and U.S. securities agencies that reaffirms the economic and technical viability of the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals project located near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. The report provides technical and economic details for development of the mining operation in two distinct phases. Phase I involves development of 225 million tons - nearly one-third of NorthMet's known resource - into an operating mine processing 32,000 tons per day over a 20-year mine life. Phase I also shows estimates of 5.6 million pounds of cobalt in concentrates, while Phase II shows 6.2 million pounds of cobalt coming from enriched copper concentrates and the hydrometallurgical plant "This report reaffirms the technical and financial viability of the 32,000 tpd case for which the final EIS and draft permits have been issued. Our focus remains on obtaining final permits under the 32,000 tpd permit case, meeting our environmental and financial assurance obligations under the terms of those permits, and obtaining the necessary financing to build the project," said Jon Cherry, president and CEO. "We are making significant progress on all of those fronts."

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