Battery material processor Electra acquires Idaho cobalt property

Battery material processor and precursor producer Electra announced on Wednesday December 14 that it had acquired a cobalt property in the US state of Idaho, securing supply in the country to meet an expected increase in electric vehicle (EV) demand

The property, known as CAS, borders Electra’s copper-cobalt project, Iron Creek. The purchase gives Electra a total of 32.6 square kilometers of property with the potential to mine cobalt, copper and gold.

Electra, which is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, will pay a total of $1.5 million over 10 years for CAS.

“Sourcing domestic supply of cobalt has become even more critical with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act [in the US],” Electra chief executive officer Trent Mell said in a statement. “While our primary focus continues to center on the commissioning of North American’s first cobalt sulfate refinery and launching our battery materials recycling demonstration plant in the coming weeks, advancing exploration activities in the Idaho Cobalt Belt is key to our long-term growth and efforts to onshore the EV battery supply chain.”

Expanding domestic US battery material supply chains in order to meet expected growing EV demand remains a focus for many battery raw material manufacturers. Cobalt demand from the EV sector in the US is forecast to grow to 30,388 tonnes in 2023 from 5,078 tonnes in 2022, according to Fastmarkets research.

Fastmarkets’ twice-weekly assessment for cobalt standard grade, in-whs Rotterdam was $19.80-21.15 per lb on Wednesday, down from $19.80-21.40 per lb on December 9.

While spot prices remain under pressure due to weak demand from the chemicals sectors in Europe and Asia, market participants noted that the US market remains resilient, especially in the alloying sectors.

Further downstream, companies such as LG Chem, Panasonic and Samsung have announced EV battery production sites throughout the US Midwest to serve automakers in the country.

Electra said it was also in the process of advancing permitting with the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service for 92 drill pads on the property, which could be explored over a 10-year period.

Idaho is a hub for cobalt production. Jervois Global announced in October that it had opened its Idaho Cobalt Operations mine site. The company said it expected to start commercial concentrate production in the fourth quarter of 2022 and that it would achieve full nameplate capacity by the end of the first quarter in 2023.

Keep up to date with the latest news and insights on our cobalt market page.

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