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Temiskaming refinery developer lands key permit

Electra Battery Materials plans to flip the switch on international cobalt processing plant later this year
Cobalt refinery 2
(Electra Battery Materials)

Electra Battery Materials has passed a major regulatory milestone toward restarting a Temiskaming metals refinery and is on a clear path to achieve another.

The aspiring Toronto-based chemical processor announced it has received its industrial sewage works permit from the province and has filed its closure plan on Jan. 19 for its proposed cobalt, nickel and manganese processing operation located outside the town of Cobalt.

Over the next five years, Electra has an ambitious $400-million to $500-million plan to refurbish and expand the former Yukon refinery and build out the site into a fully integrated battery materials park.

The company wants to establish an international lithium-ion battery recycling facility and also prepare the battery precursor material desired by North American and global electric vehicle makers.

The sewage works permit covers how processing water and tailings will be managed to ensure the environment is protected.

Last October, the company pocketed another key permit in getting the air and noise environmental compliance approval from the province.

Starting from the mid-January filing, the company's closure plan is subject to a 45-day review period by the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

The company's closure plan - a necessary provincial requirement - spells out how the property will be rehabilitated once the operation finally shutters, the estimated costs to responsibly do that, and provides the financial assurance to cover those costs.

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Electra said it doesn't "anticipate that any substantive issues will be raised" during the review process.

The company said it also needs to amend its existing permit to take water.

“Achieving these important regulatory milestones is a critical step as we bring North America’s only cobalt sulfate refinery online this year,” said company CEO Trent Mell in a Feb. 10 statement.

“Throughout the permitting process, we have consulted and worked closely with our stakeholders including Indigenous communities, neighbours, and local governments. Electra is committed to being an industry leader with respect to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices, which will be reflected in how we engage with stakeholders and how we run our operations with a view to minimizing our impact on the environment.”

Electra said it's on track to commission the refinery this year in time to accept the first shipment of African-mined cobalt by the late fall or early winter.

The cobalt sulfate refinery is the first of a four-phase strategy to be rolled out over the next four years, creating between 200 and 300 direct jobs in the process.

With 2022 being a big year in the life of the company, Electra said more materials feed and offtake agreements will be announced this year.