Cobalt mine near Salmon suspending operations - East Idaho News
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Cobalt mine near Salmon suspending operations

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SALMON — Jervois Global Limited, the Australian company that owns Idaho Cobalt Operations near Salmon, announced Wednesday that it was “suspending final construction” at the mine.

Although it formally opened for operations in December 2022, the mine was scheduled to be fully operational this quarter. Instead, ICO will only have enough employees to maintain the site according to regulatory requirements.

“Jervois will immediately commence an orderly and rapid demobilization of construction contractors from ICO’s site, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks,” the announcement read. “Total workforce, including contractors, will reduce from approximately 280 to under 30.”

In the announcement, which was signed by CEO Bryce Crocker, Jervois said the move is “due to continuing low cobalt prices and U.S. inflationary impacts on construction costs.”

The loss of 200 jobs is a blow to the small town.

“A lot of people here are shocked,” said Tony Latham of Salmon. “It’ll be a large hit for a lot of businesses.”

It seems like the suspension may be temporary, though.

“Jervois remains confident regarding the medium- and longer-term future of cobalt,” according to the announcement. The company expects demand for cobalt to go back up. More people are transitioning into electric cars, and Jervoise expects more companies will want their cobalt from a western source.

“We expect to receive $15 million funding from the U.S. Department of Defense,” Matthew Lengerich, Jervoise Executive General Manager-Mining said in a statement sent to “(Jervois) will use this for accelerating drilling at ICO, as well as studies to assess construction of a U.S.-based cobalt refinery. We will redeploy employees and contractors to these activities where possible.”

“Eligible employees will receive severance in line with industry standards,” Lengerich said.

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