Market Overview

Cobalt Value Grows as Electric Vehicle Furor Intensifies


Cobalt Value Grows as Electric Vehicle Furor Intensifies News Commentary

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NEW YORK, July 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

According to the data compiled by CRU Group, demand for cobalt is expected to exceed 100 kt this year while growing at a CAGR of 11.6% over the next ten years. CRU also projects that the way cobalt is traded and produced will change due to a shift from metallic products to chemical products. Currently, cobalt is predominately used in superalloys, stainless steels and other metallic applications. However, cobalt chemicals are beginning to take over the metallic segment due to the rising demand for lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are highly used in applications such as consumer electronics, energy storage and electric vehicles. Vatic Ventures Corp (OTC:VTTCF), Trilogy Metals Inc. (NYSE:TMQ), PolyMet Mining Corp. (NYSE:PLM), First Cobalt Corp. (OTC:FTSSF), eCobalt Solutions Inc. (OTC:ECSIF)

Lithium-ion batteries are in high demand due to their high energy density, rechargeability and recyclability. Consumer portable electronics such as phones, tablets and laptops drive a large portion of the sector, but with the impending rise in electric vehicles, the market is projected to see substantial growth. "I still believe the critical point [for the cobalt market] will be in 2020, when the majority of the electric vehicles are going to come to market," Caspar Rawles, analyst at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence told the Investing News Network. "I don't think there are any factors that could derail the cobalt story at this point."

Vatic Ventures Corp (OTC:VTTCF) also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker (TSX-V: VCV). Earlier this week, the Company announced breaking news that, "it has entered into negotiations with a private Sierra Leone company to earn a majority interest in a columbite-tantalite ("coltan") property in the Kono district, eastern Sierra Leone, Africa. The license area totals 169.73 km[2]. The Kono district is a well-known mineral producing region for gold, diamonds, and coltan. According to documents from the license holder that were issued by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, "columbite-tantalite is a non-conflict mineral and the license area is a non-conflict region in Sierra Leone".

Coltan in Sierra Leone is a fairly recent discovery. The Director General of the Mines Department of the country recently described coltan as the "new kid on the block" on the Sierra Leone mineral landscape. The USGS recently reported that several companies in Sierra Leone are exploring for this material and that there was small-scale production and exports in 2013/2014.

Coltan (columbite-tantalite) is a dull black metallic ore, from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. Niobium and tantalum have a wide range of uses, including refractive lenses for glasses, cameras, phones and printers. They are also used in semiconductor circuits, and capacitors for small electronic devices such as hearing aids, pacemakers, computer hard drives, automobile electronics, and mobile phones. The European Commission has placed both niobium and tantalum on its 2017 list of Critical Raw Materials for the EU.

The tantalite market has experienced significant price rises in the last two years, from just over USD 120/kg to over USD 186/kg. The market for niobium has remained relatively stable the past two years at over USD 42,000 per metric ton. Vatic sees this as a strategic opportunity to diversify its project portfolio."

Trilogy Metals Inc. (NYSE:TMQ) is a metals exploration and development company focused on exploring and developing the Ambler mining district located in northwestern Alaska. Trilogy recently announced that it has filed a National Instrument 43-101 technical report with the Canadian securities regulators relating to the Bornite Project which supports the resource estimate previously announced on June 5th, 2018. The technical report is entitled "NI 43-101 Technical Report on the Bornite Project, Northwest Alaska, USA" and has been prepared by Bruce Davis, Robert Sim and Jeff Austin, all of whom are independent "Qualified Persons" under NI 43-101. At a base case 0.50% copper cut-off grade, and within the combined Indicated and Inferred Cu resource pit shell, the Bornite Project is estimated to contain in-pit Inferred Resources of 124.6 Million tons grading 0.017% Co for 45 Million pounds of contained cobalt. Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse, President and Chief Executive Officer of Trilogy Metals, commented, "Now that we have filed the new Technical Report for the Bornite Project, the next step is to finish the metallurgical test work on the cobalt resources, which we expect to be completed by the end of the year. Having a successful outcome from this metallurgical test program could yield considerable value for our shareholders"

PolyMet Mining Corp. (NYSE:PLM) is a publicly traded mine development company that owns 100% of Poly Met Mining Inc., a Minnesota corporation that controls 100% of the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals ore body through a long-term lease and owns 100% of the former LTV Steel Mining Company site. The Company recently announced that 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. Capital costs for Phase I are estimated at USD 945 Million and include refurbishment of the existing primary crushing circuit and replacing the existing rod and ball mill circuits with a new, modern semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill, ball mill and flotation circuit. It also includes rail upgrades, mining equipment and a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant. Phase II involves construction and operation of a hydrometallurgical plant to treat nickel sulfide concentrates into upgraded nickel-cobalt hydroxide and recover additional copper and platinum-group metals. While development of Phase II will be at the Company's discretion, both phases are currently being permitted and are included in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and draft permits. Phase II would increase the project's capital costs by approximately USD 259 Million.

First Cobalt Corp. (OTCQX:FTSSF) is a vertically integrated North America pure-play cobalt company. First Cobalt recently announced that drilling from underground at the Iron Creek Cobalt Project in Idaho, USA continues to extend mineralization beyond the extents of the historic resource. Results from six drill holes completed at the western extension of the mineralized zones validate previously reported intersections which have, to date, extended the total strike length of the Waite Zone to 520 meters along a dip length of more than 250 meters. First Cobalt's 30,000-metre 2018 drill program for the Iron Creek Project in Idaho, USA is designed to extend the strike length of the mineralized zone to over 1,000 meters and test down dip extensions of known cobalt-copper zones to over 300 meters below surface. The assay results from six holes drilled underground at the western extension of the cobalt-copper mineralized zones infill the strike and dip extensions to mineralization in the western portion of Waite Zone. Trent Mell, President & Chief Executive Officer, commented: "Drilling continues to extend the strike and dip extent of the Iron Creek Project beyond the boundaries of the maiden resource estimate expected in October. The consistency of cobalt grades across wider widths and the higher copper grades were expected and are encouraging. These results support further testing the western strike extension of Iron Creek for a second resource estimate in early 2019."

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. Recently, eCobalt provided an update on the construction progress at the Company's 100% owned Idaho Cobalt Project, located near the town of Salmon, in the heart of the historic Idaho Cobalt Belt. The ICP remains the sole, near-term environmentally permitted primary cobalt deposit in the United States. The Company's main objective is to ensure that all environmental systems are in place to manage mine water and waste rock prior to commencing underground operations. These systems include the groundwater protection wells, the WTP to be located adjacent to the concentrator facility, piping and instrumentation, installation of the liners on the TWSF and Water Storage Ponds, and the completion of all access and maintenance roads. These activities are part of the use of proceeds from the February 2018 public offering and, due to weather delays earlier this spring, are now anticipated to be completed in early Q4 2018. "Construction activities continue at the mine site and we are expanding our production-ready team as we advance the ICP towards production," stated Paul Farquharson, President & CEO of eCobalt.

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