Canadian company announces plan to open mine, refinery in east Idaho
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The following is a news release from Regional Economic Development of Eastern Idaho.
BLACKFOOT — Vancouver, British Columbia based eCobalt has announced plans to develop a cobalt mining operation in Salmon and hydrometallurgical refinery on a railhead in neighboring Blackfoot. The Salmon mine is the only environmentally permitted primary cobalt project in the United States.
With pre-construction activities already underway, the vertically integrated Idaho Cobalt Project is designed to produce cobalt for the rechargeable batteries market. The total capital and reclamation cost is estimated at $288.1 million.
“We are thrilled to announce eCobalt’s massive investment in our community that could create 60-90 full-time, well-paying jobs,” said Blackfoot Mayor Paul Loomis. “The Idaho Cobalt Project is projected to support mining and refining capabilities through 2029. We’re excited to welcome eCobalt to Blackfoot and support their Idaho Community Block Grant application requesting funds to build a new railroad spur here, vital to improving their mine to refinery transport capabilities,” he said.
Refinery jobs will pay in the $60,000-$70,000 range. Approximately 125 jobs will be created at the Salmon mine.
According to a recently completed company feasibility study, the eCobalt mine will produce a cobalt/copper/gold concentrate then processes to produce cobalt sulfate heptahydrate, which is used in the production of rechargeable batteries.
“What an exciting announcement the Idaho Cobalt Project is for our Blackfoot and Salmon communities,” said Jan Rogers, CEO of Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI). “The economic impact the mining and refining operations will have to this region is enormous. With the global need for increased cobalt production, Eastern Idaho will now be the primary location in the United States for high reserve grade cobalt material thanks to eCobalt’s investment here,” she said.
eCobalt’s decision to operate a refinery in Blackfoot includes existing water and sewer lines to support the refinery’s construction site, ideal strategic location with nearby highway and rail access to transport cobalt, its proximity to regional populations, and a large local and regional labor pool to pull from.
According to Paul Farquharson, President and C.E.O. of eCobalt, “This is a robust project that could eventually be the sole primary producer of cobalt in the United States. The future outlook for the electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery markets further supports sustained and long-term demand for cobalt – a critical ingredient in the cathodes of rechargeable batteries. Our project is an important development for the battery supply chain enabling access to a secure, stable, ethically sourced and environmentally sound supply of battery grade cobalt sulphate, mined safely and responsibly in the United States,” he said.