Skip to content

Cobalt is king for Vancouver developer

Lithium battery market drives acquisition of former mine property

The namesake metal of the town of Cobalt is the focus of a Vancouver company which has acquired a former silver mine property near the historic northeastern Ontario community.

CobalTech Mining, formerly known as Big North Graphite, closed the acquisition of the former Duncan Kerr property from Trio Resources of Toronto on Nov. 23.

The company has plans to dig into the leftover piles of mineralized material on the surface to source cobalt.

Their 32-hectare property, located three kilometres southeast of the town in Coleman Township, contains the underground remnants of the former Kerr and Lawson silver mines, which operated intermittently from the mid-1900s through to the 1960s.

During that span, the two mines collectively produced more than 32.7 million ounces (1,060 tons) of silver.

But cobalt is being identified in the company’s reports as a “significant byproduct.”

Cobalt is rapidly gaining international attention as an essential – if often ignored and overlooked – critical metal used in the production of high energy lithium-ion batteries, prized by electric car automakers and manufacturers of mobile phones and digital devices.

A 2014 Golder Associates study prepared for Trio calculated 6,588 dry tonnes of crushed material resources contained in three stockpiles with an average grade of 761 grams per tonne of silver and 0.95 per cent cobalt. In addition, there’s 1.3 million tonnes of mineralized material in the tailings spread around the large property.

CobalTech proclaims in a YouTube video that there’s money to be made by selling bulk concentrate straight from the stockpiles “as is” to refiners, or they could process it to produce a higher concentrate material which could be marketed to a wider spectrum of refiners.

The property contains a mill that can process 100 tonnes per day and is scalable up to 500 tonnes per day.

The Vancouver company picked up the property from Trio in a share and $2-million cash deal.

As soon as the transaction was finalized Big North Granite changed its name to CobalTech Mining and appointed a new president.

It now trades under the new banner on the TSX Venture Exchange.

In a Nov. 23 news release, Spiro Kletas, the outgoing president-CEO of Big North Granite, had plenty to say about Duncan Kerr’s blue sky potential.

"With the closing of this acquisition, CobalTech Mining Inc. has quickly become a leader amongst its peers within the current North American landscape. We believe that the company will be able to be milling and selling a bulk concentrate to customers in the near term.

“As such, we are extremely pleased to be in this great position. It is also a great time to begin bringing in a more technically experienced team, namely seasoned executives that can insure we maintain not only our market leadership, but also build solid shareholder value on strong market fundamentals that are currently before us today."

Antoine Fournier, CobalTech’s incoming CEO, declined an interview request on the company’s immediate plans, suggesting he would have more to say in the new year. “Cobaltech was just launched last week,” he replied in a Dec. 1 email, “we are still putting the bits and pieces together.”

In a news release, Fournier, a 25-year professional geologist, is said to be evaluating the project and will determine the best and fastest way to get the project into production.