Frank Santaguida, PGeo, Vice President Exploration, First Cobalt Corp.
Cobalt is part of a select group of metals, the “battery metals”, due to its position in lithium-ion batteries that charge our mobile phones, laptop computers and, most recently, electric vehicles (EVs). The surge in demand for EVs is expected to potentially triple the demand for cobalt to over 300,000 tonnes per year by 2030, but with over 7,000,000 tonnes of cobalt resources in the world (according to the USGS), where will it come from?
Over 65% of the world’s cobalt supply today comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo; a place where poor mining practices and an unpredictable government make regular sourcing an issue. Another major problem we face is that most of the world’s cobalt, about 98% in 2016, is mined as a by-product from copper and nickel mineral deposits rather than as a primary metal.
Without a change to the mineral processing infrastructure, an increase to cobalt production depends on expanding production of other metals in these deposits to meet demands and economic feasibility.
Driven by this new world of battery metal demand, alternative mining districts and deposit types are being explored to potentially provide a supply solution. Several of these deposits are genetically unique and poorly understood making exploration challenging. In addition, cobalt bearing minerals can be complex and often also contain arsenic; making processing complicated (and expensive). First Cobalt Corp is a Toronto-based company at the forefront of new this world, exploring in two districts in North America where potentially the next cobalt supply chain will be sourced.
Frank Santaguida is a professional geoscientist with over 25 years’ experience mainly as an exploration geologist. He obtained his PhD at Carleton University in Ottawa and MSc at University Waterloo. He has worked extensively in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt and throughout Canada as well in several mining districts in Australia, Africa and Europe. Having a strong background in copper and nickel deposits, his recent attention is on finding cobalt acting as the VP Exploration for First Cobalt Corp, based in Toronto.
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