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Gowganda silver, cobalt explorer starting pilot plant to make electric vehicle battery material

Canada Silver Cobalt Works contracts SGS Canada to scale up testing of metals extraction technology
Former Castle Mine Gowganda (Canada Silver Cobalt Works)
The former Castle Silver Mine operated between 1955 and 1965 (Supplied)

A junior mining company with ambitious plans to be a Northern Ontario supplier of material for electric vehicle manufacturers said it's a step closer to realizing those plans.

Canada Silver Cobalt Works announced last week that a first-stage pilot plant of its cobalt extraction technology will be built by SGS Canada at its metallurgical and analytical labs at Lakefield in southern Ontario.

The cobalt sulphate and refined material produced from their proprietary and environmentally friendly Re-20X process is used in the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles.

Canada Silver Cobalt Works wants to be a miner, processor and supplier of a "highly sought-after" premium and ethically sourced silver, cobalt and other battery-grade material for the North American electric vehicle market.

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The feed material for testing will come from a combination of material pulled from the company's Castle Mine property near Gowganda, high-grade silver discovered in the tailings, from its other exploration properties, and from recycled batteries.

The company sees their Re-20X technology as giving them a strategic advantage in appealing to electric vehicle makers by providing a closed-loop supply chain where ore is sourced from Canadian properties and would follow stringent federal environmental standards.

The company said this pilot plant will "accelerate the production of client-specific battery metals" for this market. Castle Silver Cobalt has been working with SGS Canada on this technology for a few years.

In 2018, SGS was able to recover 99 per cent of the cobalt and 81 per cent of the nickel from a batch of concentrates while removing 99 per cent of the arsenic, a chronic issue from ore found in this mining camp. The concentrates graded 9.25 per cent cobalt, 5.65 per cent nickel, 49.9 per cent arsenic and 9,250 grams per tonne of silver.

The company said the 22.6 per cent cobalt sulphate compound that came out of this earlier testing exceeded the specifications required by battery manufacturers at that time.

"Back in the day, in the Cobalt Camp, the approach was simple; they followed the high-grade silver veins and discarded all the other material which was in fact battery metals that graded over 10 percent cobalt equivalent in base metals," said company CEO and director Frank Basa in a statement.

"The economics of harvesting both the base metals and silver, then adding value by processing it into premium EV battery metals will provide the company with two solid income streams and we are excited for the future as the high-grade and technology leader in Canada’s Silver Cobalt heartland.”

In preparation to eventually house Re-2OX processing technology, the company bought the former Polymet Labs in the town of Cobalt in 2020, renaming it Temiskaming Testing Laboratories. To run the lab, they've hired commercial analytical lab operators, ONSite Labs, to get the facility fully operational and open for business by this summer.

“Adding ONSite is a huge plus and turn-around times should be much shorter than what we have been experiencing," said Basa.

"The key here is that although they will be operating in TTL, they will be independent which allows us to use their services in an arms-length relationship.”

Back in the field, the company has a 50,000-metre drill program underway inside the former Castle Mine on its 78-square property, located just northeast of the town of Gowganda and about 30 kilometres south of Alamos Golds' Young-Davidson Mine in Matachewan. The company has plans to install an access ramp sometime this year.

Last May, the first-ever resource estimate for the property was posted, showing 7.56 million ounces of very high-grade silver in the inferred resources. The company said they've just scratched the surface in exploration and that this current discovery remains open in all directions.

Besides silver and cobalt, the company said the Castle property also shows strong exploration upside for nickel, gold and copper.