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Silver exploration company studies battery recycling

Canada Silver Cobalt Works thinks its processing technology could pull valuable minerals from spent batteries
Cobalt train station and track
Canada Silver Cobalt Works is eyeing its Temiskaming Testing Laboratories (behind the Cobalt train station) as a potential battery metals processing site. (File photo)

A junior mining company hunting for silver and cobalt in northeastern Ontario sees an opportunity to get into the battery recycling business with its home-grown mineral extraction technology.

Canada Silver Cobalt Works is having SGS Canada analytical labs in southern Ontario build them a pilot plant of its proprietary Re-2OX process. This technology is designed to take cobalt concentrate test mined from its property near Gowganda and convert the concentrate into a cobalt sulphate compound that can used to make lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicle production.

Now the B.C.-based company is throwing spent batteries into the mix by starting a study to determine if this technology is adaptable enough to recover valuable minerals by recycling three battery types: lithium-ion, nickel-hydride, and nickel-cadmium.

To showcase its technology, the company recently launched a dedicated website outlining their battery recycling initiative. They claim its hydro-metallurgical process is the only one of its kind in North America.

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Through research, the company sees an opportunity to fill a sizeable gap between the sheer tonnage of lithium-ion batteries sold globally and the world's recycling capacity to recover only 19 per cent of these metals. They forecast that recycling gap will only widen in the years to come.

In typical battery recycling, once the outer casing is removed, the cathode and anode in the cell are blended together to create a powder known as 'black mass,' made up of valuable minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and graphite.

"We strongly considered this initiative a few years ago but initial research turned up a lack of feedstock at that time, but this has now changed," said Canada Silver Cobalt Works CEO Frank Basa in a March 8 news release.

"With feedstock currently available and coupled with the Re-2Ox process, the path is clear for the company to develop what can be a robust and ever-increasing potential income stream by providing future tolling services for the treatment of used batteries."

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The company's main exploration focus is the site of a former silver mine at Gowganda. The Castle property with the past producing Castle Mine has big exploration upside for silver, cobalt, nickel, gold and copper.

Last May, the company posted its first-ever resource of its Castle Mine property, showing a total of 7.56 million ounces of silver in inferred resources.

The company wants to be a Canadian leader in cobalt and silver production with plans to establish a processing facility at its Temiskaming Testing Laboratories building (formerly Polymet Labs) in the town of Cobalt.