Australia

Cobalt Blue hits series of product benchmarks demonstrating it can produce high-purity, battery-ready cobalt sulphate

Cobalt Blue Holdings Ltds (ASX:COB) (OTCMKTS:CBBHF) tests on ore from the Broken Hill Cobalt Project (BHCP) have achieved a series of product benchmarks for cobalt sulphate, elemental sulphur and mixed hydroxide precipitate, which will be used for offtake marketing purposes with commercial customers.

The test program has produced 20.8% cobalt sulphate suitable for the lithium-ion battery market with the added benefit to BHCP economics of 99% grade sulphur.

After demonstrating the production of high-purity cobalt and sulphur products, the company is now finalising a 2020 project update and ore reserve statement for the project.

Results expected to improve economics

COB expects the test results will further improve the BHCP economics delivered as part of the 2018 pre-feasibility study.

Chairman Rob Biancardi said: “We are excited to announce these premium cobalt and sulphur product results.

"Our extensive test-work demonstrates that the BHCP can produce high-purity, battery-ready cobalt sulphate that will power the electric vehicles of the future.”

Prilled Elemental Sulphur produced in the tests (on a 5x5mm grid).

The recent test-work results confirm that high-purity products can be achieved using the process for recovery of metals from pyrite.

Test series

Starting with drill samples from BHCP deposits, a series of test-work programs has been completed culminating in the production of cobalt sulphate, elemental sulphur and mixed hydroxide product (MHP) samples.

The production of these final refined product samples will now be followed by pilot-scale trials in the purpose-built pilot plant at Broken Hill.

COB will use the product samples in discussion with strategic partners – as per the cobalt products program (Cobalt Product and Sulphur Sample Program) and the sulphur product assessment agreement with Mitsubishi Corporation (COB–Mitsubishi Corporation Sulphur Agreement).

Samples of cobalt sulphate will also be provided to the Australian Future Batteries Industries – Co-operative Research Centre for processing into cathode precursor, along with other Australian sourced raw material – nickel sulphate (NiWest, IGO), lithium hydroxide (Tianqi Lithium Australia), and manganese sulphate (Pilbara Metals Group).

Cobalt Blue said earlier MHP test-work produced a 37% cobalt and 7% nickel premium MHP with low impurities.

A 20.8% cobalt sulphate heptahydrate has been produced by refining the MHP.

This meets the industry benchmark of 20.5% purity for battery manufacture. The key by-product for BHCP is elemental sulphur and the company has now produced 99.3% grade elemental sulphur samples.

Large-scale furnace work

In addition, BHCP sample concentrate (7.5 tonnes) is being stored at ANSAC (ANERGY) in Bunbury WA in preparation for calcine (furnace) test-work.

After thermal decomposition, this calcined material will be moved to the pilot plant at Broken Hill.

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